This empirical study reveals that agriculture in West Bengal, a major state in India, is nonviable as a primary source of occupation for most agricultural households who have been distressed to diversify to the nonfarm sector. However, the underdeveloped rural nonfarm sector does not leave enough economic space for the distressed farmers to have a smooth and remunerative transition from agricultural to nonagricultural employment. Therefore, most farmers end up clinging precariously to the agriculture sector while engaging in nonremunerative activities in the rural nonfarm sector for sustenance. This article identifies several statistically significant drivers of employment diversification through a logit model and revisited the age-old farm–size agricultural productivity debate in India to conclude that agricultural production is not scale-neutral. Therefore, to make agriculture viable and sustainable, the average operational landholdings need to increase through reverse tenancy and/or cooperative farming and through creating gainful employment opportunities in the rural nonfarm sector. This will help farm-dependent, semi-marginal, and marginal agricultural households to transition from agricultural to nonagricultural occupations.
|Asian Journal of Agriculture and Development (AJAD)
|employment diversification farm viability logit model semi-marginal and marginal farmers
|1656-4383 (print); 2599-3879 (online)
|Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA)