Monday, 8 July 2019

Women Farmers and Union Budget 2019-20: How beneficial is Notional Allocations in Gender Budget!



Nesar Ahmad and Mahendra Singh Rao[1]

Women and Agriculture

The agriculture sector in India contributes 16% of the GDP and employs 49% of the total workforce of the country. Public expenditure towards the agriculture sector has been poor, however, the Union government has promised the farmer’s income would be doubled by 2022. The role of women in agriculture is critical. As per Census 2011, out of total female main workers, 55 per cent were agricultural labourers and 24 per cent were cultivators[2]. However, women own only 12.08 % of all operational holdings (Agricultural Census 2011-12)[3]. The Economic Survey, 207-18 emphasized the need for “Policy for Women Farmers”. Some of the policy suggestions made by the Economic Survey 2017-18 are following[4]:

  • Earmarking at least 30 per cent of the budget allocation for women beneficiaries in all ongoing schemes/ programmes and development activities.
  • Initiating women centric activities to ensure benefits of various beneficiary-oriented programs/schemes reach them.
  • Focusing on women self-help group (SHG) to connect them to micro-credit through capacity building activities and to provide information and ensuring their representation in different decision-making bodies.
Moreover, the Economic Survey highlights the need of recognizing women as farmers. But this is not reflected in the budgets presented by the Union Government.

Budget for the Agriculture Sector

Let us first take a look at the status of agriculture in the budget this year. The Finance Minister in her first budget speech said: “we will invest widely in agricultural infrastructure”. However, the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare does not show much increase in this. The total allocation for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare is Rs. 142,301 crore for 2019-20 BE, which is increased to nearly 80% from the previous year 2018-19 RE (79026 Crore) (Table 1). However, this increase is mainly due to higher allocation (75000 cr.) for the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-Kisan) which was launched in the interim budget for 2019-20 presented by the government in February this year. If we exclude this amount the budget for the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare will be less than the previous year’s revised estimates.

Table 1: Union Budget Allocation under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare (Rs. in crore)


Department
Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare
Department of Animal Husbandry, Dairying and Fisheries
Dept. of Agricultural Research and Education 
Total Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare   with Interest Subvention
Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation
2014-15 (A)
25255
1822
4840
31917
5480.05
2015-16 (A)
28296
1410
5386
35092
6862.05
2016-17 (A)
36912
1858
5729
44500
4714.13
2017-18 (RE)
41105
2167
6992
50264
7660
2017-18 (AE)
37397
2022
6943
46362
5313.47
2018-19 (BE)
46700
3100
7800
57600
8860
2018-19 (RE)
67800
3273
7953
79026
7612.5
2019-20 (BE)
130485.2
3737
8079
142301.2
8245.25
Growth of expenditure over previous year’s RE (%)
92.5
14.2
1.6
80.1
8.3

Source: Union Budget, various years, Ministry of Finance (GoI)

Besides, Rs. 8245.25 crore has been allocated to the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, which comes under the newly created Ministry of Jal Skati. This allocation is an increase by only about 8.3% over the previous year (2018-19) revised estimate.

Allocation under major schemes of the agriculture sector:

If we look at the scheme-wise allocation for major schemes of the agriculture sector, the incremental increase is seen for the schemes like National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Interest Subvention for Providing Short Term Credit to Farmers, Price Stabilization Fund in the Department of Consumer Affairs and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (Under MoA). On the other hand budget allocation is decreased for the scheme likes White Revolution, Har Khet ko Pani etc.  Allocations for the Mission on Oilseeds and Palm oil have now merged with the National Food Security Mission, budget for which shows an increase of about 32%. But if we add the budget for NFSM and Mission on Oilseeds and palm oil for the previous year, the increase is not so impressive. There is a decline in budget for white revolution (cotton) and there is not much increase in budget for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna (RKVY). The FM announced Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) for a focused fisheries management framework. However, the budget for Blue Revolution remains lower than the last year’s budget estimates and has shown an increase of only about 8% from last years revised estimate. 

Women and Agriculture Budget

If we look at this year’s budget from the perspective of women farmers and in light of the above-mentioned policy measures suggested by Economic Survey, 2017-18, we do not get a very optimistic picture. The Finance Minister did not say much about the women farmers in her budget speech[5]. She talked about the role of women in the economy, especially in the rural economy and said the government is going to form a committee to review the gender-responsive budget (GRB) as being presented now. The FM also announced a new Pradhan Mantri Matsya Sampada Yojana (PMMSY) for focused development of the fishery sector, which employs a significant percentage of women. She also announced that every member of women SHGs who has a Jan Dhan account will be entitled to Rs. 5,000 overdraft, which can benefit the women farmers as well.

Status of Gender Budget in Agriculture Sector:

As we know, the government has been presenting a Gender Budget Statement (GBS) in the name of Gender Responsive Budget for more than a decade now. The GBS provides a list of schemes under each Ministry/Department and in which either all the budget is going towards women (Part A of the GBS) or at least 30% of the budget of the scheme is going towards women beneficiaries (Part B of the GBS). The GRB process is promoted and monitored by the Minister of Women and Child Development and all the Ministries/Departments are supposed to have a Gender Budget Cell which should guide the Ministry/Department on how to make their policies, programmes and budget more gender sensitive. As mentioned above, the Finance Minister has announced to set up a committee to review the GRB / GBS process in the country.

The annual report of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmer Welfare informs that the Department has a Gender Budget Cell and also a National Gender Resource Centre under the Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension (SMAE)[6]. Budget for SMAE, however, declined from Rs. 1020 crore in last year’s budget estimates to Rs. 950 crores this year. In Previous year (2018-19) the revised estimate shows a huge decline in the budget for this scheme from Rs. 1020 crores to Rs. 875 crores.

Now if we turn to the GBS of the MoA&FW, there are only two schemes reported by the ministry in the part A of GBS and both are under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education (Table 2). It shows that neither of two main departments, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers Welfare and the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries has any women specific programme. One of the 100% women specific allocations under the Department of Agricultural Research and Education is going towards the Central Institute for Women in Agriculture, located in Bhubaneswar and other is going towards a research project on home science, again in Bhubaneswar. Now, whether the research on home science is beneficial to women farmers or is actually something which reinforces gender stereotypes and inequality is something one should look into. However, this year in the Part B there are two schemes of Department of Dairy Development and Fisheries of which 100% allocation have been reported as gender component (Table 4).  These schemes are Blue Revolution (for fishery development) and Diary Entrepreneurship Development. But then, why these two schemes are not shown in Part A is a mystery. Also, though there is a high percentage of women working in fisheries, how fair it is to report 100% allocations as gender budget because men also are engaged in the sector.

Table- 2: PART A- 100% Women specific programmes of MoA&FW (Rs. crores)


MINISTRY/DEPARTMENT
2017-18
BE
2017-18
RE
2017-18
AE
2018-19
BE
2018-19
RE
2019-20
BE
Department of Agricultural Research and Education






Central Institute for Women in
Agriculture, Bhubaneswar
14.94
9.64
2.89
10.64
11.00
11.50
All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Home Science, Bhubaneswar
29.1
10.1
7.82
11.10
9.00
9.34
Total:
44.04
19.74
10.71
21.74
20.00
20.84

Source:
Union Budget, 2018-19 and 2019-20, Ministry of Finance (GoI)
Since last year the government is also providing revised estimates and actual expenditure made under the schemes listed in Part A of the GBS. And, as the table above suggests the actual expenditure under both the schemes listed in Part A has been much lower than the budget estimate during the year 2017-18. In 2018-19 as well, the revised estimate for the All India Co-ordinated Research Project on Home Science, Bhubneshwar is lower than the budget estimate.

Now, looking at Part B of the GBS of MoA&FW (Table 4), 14 schemes of the Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare are listed here and in all of them the gender component i.e. budget going towards women is shown to be 30%.

Table- 3: PART B- 30% Women specific programme of MoA&FW (Rs. Crores)
Scheme
2018-19 BE
2018-19 RE
2019-20
BE
Total
 Budget
GB component
%  of GB
Total Budget
GB component
%  of GB
Total Budget
GB component
%  of GB
Sub-Mission on Agriculture Mechanisation
1165
350
30
898
269
30
1000
300
30
National Project on Soil Health and Fertility
400
120
30
300
90
30
324
97
30
National Food Security Mission
1691
507
30
1510
453
30
2000
600
30
Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojna
3600
1080
30
3600
1080
30
3745
1124
30
National Mission on Oil Seeds and Palm Oil
400
120
30
352
106
30

...

Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojna
360
108
30
300
90
30
325
98
30
Sub-Mission on Seed and Planting Material
332
100
30
332
100
30
380
114
30
National Project on Organic Farming
8
...

3


2


Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna-Per-Drop More Crop
4000
1200
30
2955
886
30
3500
1050
30
Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture
2536
761
30
2100
630
30
2225
668
30
Sub-Mission on Agriculture Extension
1020
306
30
875
263
30
950
285
30
Organic Value Chain Development for North Eastern Region
160
48
30
182
55
30
160
48
30
Rain fed Area Development and Climate change
234
70
30
225
68
30
250
75
30
National Project on Agro-Forestry
75
23
30
40
12
30
50
15
30
Total
15981
4792
30
13672
4101
30
14911
4473
30
Department of Fisheries
Blue Revolution- Integrated Development and Management of Fisheries






550
550
100
Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying
Dairy Entrepreneurship Development






325
325
100
National Livestock Mission






480
380
79
Total






805
705
88
Source: Union Budget, 2018-19 and 2019-20, Ministry of Finance (GoI)

This year three schemes of Department of Dairy Development and Fisheries are also listed in the Part B of the GBS. Two of those schemes, as mentioned above, are showing 100 allocations towards women and should be listed in Part A. The third in the list is National Livestock Mission in which 79% allocation has been reported as gender component.

The ritualistic reporting of 30% as gender component in almost all the sachems reported in Part B indicates towards a notional or nominal reporting without any particular basis. The MoA&FW must come out with realistic figures based on concrete data on women farmer beneficiaries of these schemes.  Additionally, since the Part B of the GBS only provides a budget estimate and no revised estimates and actually expenditure figures, as it has started giving for the schemes in Part A of GBS, it is also not known how much of these allocations shown as gender component is actually being spent.

Also, the important Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation or even the newly created Ministry of Jal Shakti, of which this department is now a part, does not report any of their schemes in either Part A or Part B of the GBS, showing their schemes for irrigation and other purposes in the water sector have no gender concerns at all. 

Conclusions

The union budget 2019-20, which is the first budget of the second tenure of Modi government, does not sound very promising for the millions of women farmers. The budget speech does not even mention women farmers, there are no specific programmes announced for women farmers except for one in the fisheries sector. The Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman under which the farmers are to be given support of Rs. 6,000 (announced in the interim budget before the general election) is also linked to land ownership and is therefore not likely to benefit the majority of women farmers who do not own land. The gender budget statement of ministry is mechanically reporting 30% gender component in almost all the schemes listed in the Part B of the GBS and the two schemes in which 100% allocation is going towards women are not able to utilize the allocated budget fully. This year two more schemes have been reported to be having 100% gender component but these are reported in Part B instead of Part A. we hope that next year onwards these two schemes are also reported in Part A and their revised estimates and actual expenditure are also reported. We also hope that the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation which is an important department for agriculture sector also devices women centric programmes and thinks ways of benefiting women farmers.