In some states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, rural is no longer primarily agricultural. Share of agriculture in rural income, in these states, has fallen to very low levels. The northern states too are becoming less dependent on agriculture for income as new job opportunities are becoming available in the rural.
According to data from NABARD All India Rural Financial Inclusion Survey 2016-17, only 23% of rural income comes from farming. Less than half of rural households are “agricultural”, i.e. relying on agriculture for more than 50% of their household income. Among the agricultural households, the share of income from traditional agricultural practices such as cultivation and livestock rearing is around 43%, as new forms of agriculture such as pond fish farming are gaining popularity.
The data from a National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) 2012-13 report shows that only around 60% of rural Indian households is agricultural (having more than 50% income from agriculture). Among these agricultural households, share of income from cultivation and livestock rearing is 67%, and 40 per cent of the income is from non-farm sources.
Rising non-agricultural rural income does not mean that the plight of the farmers is over. Half of India’s labour force is still engaged in agriculture. Indebtedness among farmers is prevalent, and it often leads to demands and agitations for farm loan waivers in many states.