ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Non-beneficiary Tenant Farming under the Rythu Bandhu Scheme

The Case of Telangana

The Rythu Bandhu scheme gives financial support to farmers towards meeting the cost of inputs and other initial needs to support farming. Still, it cannot provide sufficient support to tenant farmers who are fragile and in the worst situation to pay rent and meet the cost of farming. Thus, the scheme should be extended to the most deprived agrarian communities, who are landless, and face risks from farming and employment uncertainties in agriculture.

Even after 76 years of India attaining independence, approximately 55% of its population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. That explains the important role that agriculture continues to play in the overall economic development of the country. Yet, even today, farmers, who sustain the agrarian economy, are facing insecure futures, and many of them are dying by suicide because they are unable to repay their debts. The situation is no different in Telangana, which was formed in May 2014. Majority of these unfortunate persons are tenants, either small or marginal (Galab and Revathi 2007). The State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB) (GoT 2011) reported that between 2015 and 2017, around 1,528 farmers, belonging to the mixed tenant and small farmer categories, died by suicide in Telangana. It must be mentioned here that this figure did not include the landless labourers leasing in land (pure tenants), since they were not included as farmers in the records of the SCRB. The reports of the Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV), a network of organisations working on farmers’ problems, including suicide, estimate that from June 2014 to September 2018, about 3,603 farmers in Telangana died by suicide, and most of them were tenants and poor farmers. Sainath (2015) elucidated that suicides of tenant farmers are not reported in the category of farmers, but are instead covered under the category of “others.”1 In most cases, this is when they do not possess property documents in their name, rental agreement of tenancy or evidence of an undivided property among heirs, such as land under parents’ name. Thus, this method excludes the actual cultivator.

Poor implementation of policies towards tenants’ well-being and the absence of proper parameters to define pure tenant farmers by governments creates barriers that prevent tenants from availing government subsidies even though they are the real cultivators. This has an impact on the members of the poor farming community, resulting in suicides.2 The paper seeks to highlight the way in which pure tenants/tenants continue to be excluded from government policies, benefits, and treatment. Many pure/mixed tenants have lost their lives due to forced tenancy, meaning that they are compelled to enter the land lease market for survival since they lack support mechanisms and other alternatives in the village.

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Updated On : 22nd Aug, 2023
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