Rural Livelihood Diversification
My relationship with rural India dates back to when I was a 19 year old, headed to the interiors of Maharashtra to understand the role livelihoods, women self help groups and a local land rights struggle played in the larger development dialogue.
One of my biggest learnings back then was that agriculture was not the mainstay of most families.
In India's agrarian economy, 86.2% of all farmers own less than 2 hectares of land (roughly about the size of 3.5 football fields) which only accounts for 43.6% of the total crop area, according to the 10th Agricultural Census of India 2015-2016.
If you do the math, on an average each family owns about 0.6 hectares of land.
Tilling the land brings with it challenges of access to water and seeds, climatic variations, pests, spiralling debt, many mouths to feed.
Fact is - rural incomes typically comprise of a combination of agriculture on your own land, sharecropping on others lands, rearing and sale of livestock and livestock products, chopping and sale of firewood, fishing, and other social enterprises, have been documented as part of an ongoing series.