Study on Bundelkhand of Planning Commission: Aspects of Economy - Agriculture

Study on Bundelkhand of Planning Commission: Aspects of Economy - Agriculture

Aspects of Economy

Bundelkhand and adjoining areas have vast resources in terms of land, forests and minerals. But the area is far behind others in agriculture, industry and human resource development even after a number of development projects launched since 50 years of Independence. It is considered to be one of the backward regions of the state.


All the concerned districts of Bundelkhand have their economy predominantly based on agriculture. But the infertility of land, low productivity, improper land distribution in which a few medium and large farmers have major share in land holdings, lack of irrigation facilities and unscientific cultivation in terms of non-use of modern methods in agriculture have kept the agriculture-based economy on the verge of subsistence only. In district Tikamgarh, out of the total area of 4,64,499 hactares,only 3,68,217 hactares are under cultivation. A very small percentage of its area is such in which two crops are sown. When we analyse the land holdings, it approves of the feudal nature of the area. Out of the total number of 1,49,041 land-holdings, 1,00,103(67.16%) holdings belong to small and marginal farmers who have less than two hactares of land. In total these small and marginal farmers control only 32% (90471 hactares) of the total area of 2,81,046 hactares of land holdings. So nearly 67.16% farmers are controlling only 32% of the land holdings which shows that remaining medium & large farmers (about 33%) are controlling the major chunk of land holdings. Naturally, small land holdings are not very productive and useful for scientific cultivation. That is why, the major population is living with subsistence agricultural production. Such population is that of backward classes/SC/ST.

Tikamgarh, alongwith Datia and Chhatarpur, falls in the Jwar-Wheat producing areas of MP. Apart from wheat, the other major crops grown in the area are rice, jwar, maize, bajra, kodo, kutki, gram, tuar, mung, urad, soyabean, alsi, til, mungfali, jute and vegetables. Soyabean is also a major crop in the area which has attracted farmers towards it due to its cash value in the market. But with the net area under soyabean growing, the cultivation and productivity of other pulses and oilseeds is getting badly affected day by day. Soyabean is also affecting the labour-landowner relationship because soyabean, not being a food grain, does not provide direct material to eat to the labourer, particularly in the context when there was a system to give the crop as a wage to the labour. Soyabean gives high return to the large cultivators.

In certain areas of Tikamgarh, particularly in Newari block adjoining the markets in Jhansi town in UP, cropping of vegetables and spices is also on large scale. Perhaps, this is one of the major factors why Newari is considered more developed block than others in the district. This has also affected the water-table of the area. Newari has one of the lowest water-table in the country while the river like Betwa flows along it.

Overall productivity of crops in Tikamgarh is not upto the national standards. The productivity of wheat is 2258 kgs/hactare in irrigated areas and 1932 kgs/hactare in unirrigated area, which is below the national average. Similar is the case with rice whose productivity (1312kg/ha) in irrigated areas is far below the national average of 1760 kg/ha. The whole of Bundelkhand is dependent on the rains for irrigation. Though the major sources of irrigation in Bundelkhand are wells, the water in the wells depends on the rain. The second major sources are ponds. In Tikamgarh, the famous Chanderi Ponds are well scattered in the district and serve as a major source for drinking water as well as irrigation.Actually the water-table in the region as well as in the wells is maintained by these traditionally existing ponds. But their condition is depleting and if not taken care of, they will
lose their importance.

Among all the Bundelkhand districts, Tikamgarh is rated high in terms of the coverage of its irrigation facilities. According to 1995-96 records, as mentioned in District Statistical Booklet of the district, 76.36% of the net sown area of the district is under irrigation. There are 67,362 wells, 243 ponds (under official/govt.control), 215 tubewells and 175 canals for irrigation. But still the rains affect it because wells and ponds are not independent of monsoon rains. It is to be noted that Bundelkhand receives average rainfall only in 6-7 years. With ground water decreasing, the problem of irrigation is ahead. The block Palera of Tikamgarh lags behind in irrigation facilities in comparison to Prithivipur and Newari. Like Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur also has the large land holdings concentrated in the hands of a few large and medium farmers. Out of the total area of 8,63,010 hactares of Chhatarpur, only 4,48,078 hactares are under cultivation, in which 2,54,006 hactares are under Rabi and rest are under Kharif cultivation. Out of the total number of 1,86,285 landholdings, 58.33% (1,08,670 holdings) are that of small and marginal farmers who control only 26% (1,08,670 ha) of the total area of landholdings. So, a small number of medium and large farmers control the major area of land-holdings.

Unlike Tikamgarh, area under irrigation in Chhatarpur district is very small. Only 39.86% of the total sown area in the district is under irrigation. So the agriculture is largely rain-fed. The poor facilities of irrigation hits the blocks Gaurihar, Londi, Baxwaha and Bijawar badly because these are least irrigated blocks. Around 54,885 wells, 143 officially controlled ponds, 5 tubewells and only 30 canals don’t serve the purpose of irrigation of district Chhatarpur. The productivity of the crops itself show the scene in agriculture. The productivity of wheat is 1960kg/ha in irrigated area, which is lower than the productivity in Tikamgarh. Productivity of rice is only 455 kg/ha. While the productivity of Soyabean in Tikamgarh is 1248 kg/ha, it is only 588 kg/ha in Chhatarpur. So, the agriculture is at a very poor state in Chhatarpur.

Poverty and quality of life in Bundelkhand

Case Note:1 - Village : Jharia, Gram Panchayat- Jharia,Distt:Datia

VillageJharia, is situated on Datia-Sewda road, some 8 kms away from Datia town, in block Datia of the same district.There are around 70 families forming the population of around 650.

The village is inhabited by thecasts namely Thakur, Ahirwar, Kushwah, Vishwakarma, Valmiki, Pal, Parihar and a fewothers. Thakur’s control the major decisions for the village. The practice ofuntouchability is prevalent. Apart from Thakur, a few Ahirwar(Harijan) families are alsowell off due to the govt. job of their family members. Rest of the families of all othercastes are dependent on others’land for livelihood, mostly as labourers, becausearound 25 families of Valmikis and Parihars are almost landless.

Agriculture is the major source oflivelihood. Cultivators grow soyabean, arhar, mungfali and sugarcane during kharif andwheat, mustard, masur, urad and mung during rabi. All those who have no land work aslabourers. When there is no employment in agricultural activities , they go to Datia towork as unskilled labour. Villagers get fuel wood from the nearby forests area. Some ofthe families sell fuelwood in Datia, to add to their income.

When discussing about the problems in the villages, villagers had the first concernfor health. They were telling that malaria and diarrhoea/dysentry were the major killersin their villages. Children were the worst hit and were dying in the number of at least5-6 per year. Though the hospital in Datia is not far off but their economic conditiondoes not allow them to visit such hospitals.

Poor villages have theconcern about their low wage rate. There are two type of wagesagricultural andnon-agricultural. The have to work upto 12 hoursa day as agricultural labour and get Rs25/for men and Rs20/for women. Non-agriculturallabour generates Rs.25-30 to men and Rs.20-25 for women in a day.

The irrigation of the village landis done through 40 wells out of which 10 wells provide water throughout the year whileothers get dry. About 15% of cultivable landis irrigated through these wells.

Thakurs control most of the land,the holdings being 50 to 250 acres. Ahirwars also have got land, in the range of 10-15acres. But other castes have got very little land and 25 families of valmikis and pariharsare almost landless, adding to the labour force.

On the agricultural credit, poorfarmers have to pay one and half times interest. If not paid on time, it increases till itcovers the cost of the land and land goes to the rich land-lords. Villagers takecredit/loans for marriages and illness of their family members. For every 100 rupees,15-20% interest is to be paid monthly. If not paid, they have to become almost bondedlabour for the landlords.

For drinking water, 3 wells and 3handpumps are there in the village. They are meant actually for the poor community,because landlords have their private resources. Handpumps are out of order for most of thetime and that makes them dependent on the wells, which are not taken care of properly bythe Gram-Panchayat because they aresituated in the harijanareas. Women of the lower castes work inthe homes as well as outside as agricultural and non agricultural labour. During summer,they make‘pattals’ Around 25% of males are literatewhile only 5% of women are literate. There is one primary school in the village butteachers mostly sit in the houses of landlords, thus school is not properly functioning.Drinking water arrangements are separate for upper and lower castes. Village panchayat is headed by a Thakur sarpanch.Panchayat meeting takes place at his
house. Due to untouchability, a scheduled castepanchayat member is told to collect the signature of all his cast people in attendanceregister of Panchayat general body meeting. Poor villagers complain about the functioningof panchayat and do not see it beneficial for the to sell in the market. A good number ofwomen work in the houses of the landlords, where at times, they are sexually abused butreport is not written in the police station due to the influence of landlords. Besides it,the families of such abused women are also tortured, if they try to go to police stations.Around 25% of the village are literate of which only 5% ofwomen are literate . There is one primary school in the village but teachers mostly sit in the houses of landlords, thus school is not properly functioning . Drinking waterarrangement are aeparate for upper and lower castes. Village panchayat is headed by aThakur sarpanch. Panchayat meeting takes place at his house. Due to un touchability , ascheduled caste panchayat member is told to collect thesignature of all his caste people in attendance register of panchayat general body meeting. Poor villagers complain about the functioning ofpanchayat generaland do not see it beneficial for thebetterment of the village.

District Datia, also falls within the Jwar-Wheat zone of cultivation. Out of it total area of 2,03,481 hactares, only 1,39,676 hactares are under cultivation. Small and marginal landholders constitute 55% (28,439) of the total of 51,536. But they control only 18% (26,574 ha) of land. In Datia, it was noted in field that big landlords are practicing all ways to snatch the lands of the poor masses. This is very common practice in the rural areas of

In Datia, Rabi crop is grown in 1,09,716 hactares while Kharif is grown only in 29,960 hactares. Irrigation facilities are better than Chhatarpur but far behind Tikamgarh. Only 44.46% of the total sown area is under irrigation which is provided by two canals, 67 tubewells, 17,723 wells and 2 ponds. In block Sewda, irrigation facilities are better distributed than block Datia, where only 36.28% land is irrigated. The productivity of wheat in Datia is comparatively better with 2103 kg/hactare production.

Districts Satna and Panna are the zones of Rice-Wheat production in MP. The land-holding in Satna is also primarily concentrated in the hand of large and medium farmers. Out of its total area of 7,42,432hactares , only 4,69,194hactares are under cultivation. But only 24.92% area is under irrigation in Satna. The blocks which are not properly irrigated include, Amarpatan, Ramnagar, Maihar, Nagod, Uchehara and Majhgawa. Only Rampur Baghelan is relatively well irrigated due to the concentration of canals and tubewells in the block. The number of tubewells (5410) in Satna district is high in comparison to other concerned districts.

Panna has the total area of 7,02,924 hactares in which only 2,75,873 hactares are under cultivation. Kharif is grown in 9,5249hactares while Rabi is grown in 1,80,624hactares. In Panna, again, small and marginal farmers control only a small proportion of the total land holdings. Out of the total holdings of 1,19,465 in Panna district, 60% is that of small and marginal farmers who hold only 19% of the total area. This indicates who controls the major area of the land. They are the rich and higher classes who control most of the cultivable area. The irrigation facilities are least in Panna in comparison to other districts in Bundelkhand. Till 1995-96, only 18.97% cultivable land of Panna was under irrigation. Out of all the blocks of Panna, the irrigation facilities are least in block Pawai (8.52%), Sahnagar (12.13%) and Gunnaur (12.85%). The productivity of crops is also very low, even if compared within the districts of Bundelkhand. Productivity of rice is only 1052kg/ha in irrigated area while it is only 681 kg/ha in un-irrigated area. Similarly, the wheat is produced at the rate of 1931 kg/ha in irrigated area and only1134kg/ha in unirrigated area. So, the overall scene in agriculture sector in Bundelkhand is not encouraging. Bundelkhand is not able to produce sufficient food for its population. The production is largely concentrated into the hands of quite a few landlords belonging to higher caste and classes. Livelihood from other sources, like forest and traditional crafts and occupation is also edging out. Lower caste and classes are able to generate foodgrains through their meagre cultivation and agriculture-labour only for a period of 3-4 months on an average in a year. So, a large number of labourers are forced to migrate to other regions of the countryAgriculture sector can’t hold them back, unless steps are taken for proper land-distribution, irrigation facilities and raising the productivity in the region.

Poverty and quality of life in Bundelkhand

Case note :2 Village Marhi Khurd, Panchayat-Mahauri, Distt:Satna.

Village Marhi Khurd, a part of the panchayat Mahauri, is situated in block Nagaud on Nagaud-Satna road, at some 5 kms from Nagaud. There are around 55 households in the village, with the population of about 350.

The village is inhabited by castes Bagari, Bunkar, Rajak, Khuswah, Kahar and Dahit. The other village of Panchayat , Akauna is inhabited by Thakurs who have control and say in the affairs of Marhi Khurd. In this village, Bagari community, through belonging to SC, are relatively rich. Actually, block Nagaud is dominated by Thakurs, Brahmins and Bagari castes. Bagari community is so dominant and influential that there is a demand in the region that they should be put out of the list of SC and put under OBC(Other Backward Classes).The social as well economic status of Bagari caste is well ahead of other constituents of SC. Bagari community have most of the modern resources like tractors, thrashers for agriculture in the village. Some families of other castes have very little land (1- 1/2ha) in the village . Almost 50% of the families in the village are landless. Almost half of the village’s land is under the control of Bagari caste who have holdings upto 50 acres to some families .All those who have tractors, rent it to the small farmers for ploughing at the rate of Rs.140/- per hour.

The economy of the village is based on agriculture and bidi making. In Kharif, Soyabean, Urad and Jwar is grown while in Rabi season, Wheat, Gram, Moong etc. are grown. Apart from agriculture, bidi making is the main occupation which is done mostly by women and children. Forests are at distance, so it is time-taking job to collect tendu leaves from there. Health is again a major problem in the village. People complain that they have never seen any health worker of the Government visiting their village. Malaria is the biggest killer disease, which takes the form of an epidemic at times. A good number of children below 5 are killed by this disease. Diarrhoea/ Dysentry and Cough are also prevalent in the village.
Poor people also complaint about exploitative wage labour. In agriculture, male labour is paid Rs 20/per day and women are paid Rs15/. In bidi making, the problem is universal. Bidi workers are given 700 grams tendu leaves by contractors from which only 500 bidis can be made while the workers have to provide 1000 bidi rather 1200 bidis to get Rs20/ as wage. The villagers take loan mostly from the rich people of Bagari community for agriculture, marriage and treatment of illness of their family members at the interest rate of 10% per month. . If not paid, they have to become bonded labour for the landlords.

Most of the irrigated land belongs to Bagari and Thakur community of the nearby village. For drinking water new people are dependent on 3 handpumps while wells are getting neglected. Women, of the lower caste, work day and night to support their families. During the harvesting of wheat , they get one bundle as wage for 20 bundles they harvest. Rest of their time, they give for bidi making.

Schooling is a big problem for the children. There is no primary school in the village. It is around 2 Kms away, in another village. Only the children of Bagari community go to school while others do not. There is literacy of 10-12% among men and 4-5% among women


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