This book is the outcome of a two-year research project undertaken by the Foundation for Agrarian Studies and supported by the Rosa Luxemberg Stiftung (New Delhi). The objective of the project was to examine the socioeconomic characteristics and viability of small producers in different agro-ecological regions of India, locating them in the broader context of the capitalist development of Indian agriculture. This book seeks to address some key questions concerning small farms and small farmers in the context of contemporary India, drawing on empirical material of exceptional quality collected through carefully designed and conducted household and farm economy surveys in seventeen villages located in nine major states of India. Chapters based on household data examine issues such as the productivity of small farms, the economic viability of small farming, the multiple sources of household income of small farmers, the patterns of input use, and the extent of labor performed by small farmers on their own holdings. While not romanticizing the role of small farmers, the book brings out the need for strong state support to enable small farmers to meet the challenges they face.
Madhura Swaminathan is professor and head of the Economic Analysis Unit at the Indian Statistical Institute, Bangalore. Sandipan Baksi is the program coordinator at the Foundation for Agrarian Studies, Bangalore. He is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.