Nearly 50 per cent of agricultural households in the country were in debt with average outstanding loan per household at ₹74,121 in 2019, according to a National Statistical Office (NSO) survey.
This is much before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country. The survey further points out that only 69.6 per cent of the outstanding loans were taken from institutional sources like banks, cooperative societies and government agencies, while 20.5 per cent of loans were from professional moneylenders, where the interest rate was very high.
The survey also said that of the total loan, only 57.5 per cent was taken for agricultural purposes. NSO carried out the survey on land and livestock holdings of households, and situation assessment of agricultural households in rural areas of the country, during January-December 2019.
Average monthly income per agricultural household during agricultural year 2018-19 was at ₹10,218. Of this, the average income per household from wages was ₹4,063, crop production was ₹3,798, animal husbandry was ₹1,582, non-farm business was ₹641 and leasing of land was ₹134.
The number of agricultural households in the country was estimated at 9.3 crore, with OBCs accounting for 45.8 per cent, SCs for 15.9 per cent, STs for 14.2 per cent, and others accounting for 24.1 per cent.
The survey estimates the number of non-agricultural households living in rural areas at 7.93 crore. As much as 83.5 per cent of rural households had less than one hectare of land, while only 0.2 per cent possessed land in excess of 10 hectare.
Meanwhile in another report, NSO stated that the incidence of indebtedness was about 35 per cent in rural India (40.3 per cent cultivator households, 28.2 per cent non-cultivator households) compared to 22.4 per cent in urban India (27.5 per cent self-employed households, 20.6 per cent other households) as of June 30, 2018.
The report also found that in rural India, 17.8 per cent households were indebted to institutional credit agencies. “10.2 per cent of the households were indebted to non-institutional credit agencies in rural India only, compared to 4.9 per cent households in urban India,” the survey said.
About seven per cent of the households were indebted to both institutional credit agencies and non-institutional credit agencies in rural India against three per cent households in urban India.
The survey also said that as of June 30, 2018, average amount of debt was ₹59,748 among rural households (₹74,460 for cultivator households, ₹40,432 for non-cultivator households).
Average amount of debt was ₹1,20,336 among urban households. In rural India, the share of outstanding cash debt from institutional credit agencies was 66 per cent against the 34 per cent from non-institutional credit agencies.
In urban India, the share of outstanding cash debt from institutional credit agencies was 87 per cent compared to the 13 per cent from non-institutional credit agencies.