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Impact of Fish Farming on Employment and Household Income Evidence from a Village Study in West Bengal
Shantanu De Roy
Prawn and fish farming is an important source of income and employment for the local populace in the Sunderban region in West Bengal. These have led to a dynamism in the local economy in these areas. The results of this study suggest that the impact of this development has been skewed, whereby a small section of the population with access to capital has enjoyed substantial benefits and a large majority of the population was left out of the development trajectory. This paper analyses the impact of prawn farming on employment and income on different sections of the population in the Sunderban estuarine region.
I am thankful to V K Ramachandran, Madhura Swaminathan, Vikas Rawal and Aparajita Bakshi, and an anonymous referee, for suggestions and comments. Shantanu De Roy (email@example.com) is with the Foundation for Agrarian Studies, Kolkata.
est Bengal is one of the largest producers of prawn in India with an impressive growth rate in prawn production between 2000-01 and 2006-07. The growth rate of prawn production in West Bengal between 2000-01 and 2006-07 was 13.8%; the corresponding ﬁgure for India as a whole was 0.08%.1 The state has the highest potential area for prawn farming among the maritime states in India (Bhattacharya 2009). The total potential culturable area for brackish water prawn farming is 5,25,000 acres. By 2007-08, about 27.6% of the total potential area (1,45,000 acres) was under brackish water prawn farming. The share of West Bengal in total prawn production in India was 14.6% in 2006-07. Brackish water prawn farming in West Bengal is done in three districts: North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and East Medinipur. This paper discusses the impact of prawn farming on employment and incomes of different sections of the population. The core of the study is based on primary data collected from a survey in May-June 2006. Prawn farming is an important source of income and employment in the Sunderban estuarine region in West Bengal. These have led to the development of capitalist production relations in these areas where subsistence single-cropping of paddy was widely prevalent. An important aspect of the development of capitalism is the nature of classes that arise on the basis of the former. Capitalism and market forces, when superimposed on backward pre-capitalist relations that prevailed in these parts, prior to the introduction of prawn farming, have a profound unequalising impact.2 Prawn farming has made the local economy in these areas more dynamic. However, the impact of the development of prawn farming has been skewed, whereby a small section of the population that had access to capital cornered the beneﬁts and a large majority of the population was left out of the development trajectory. Studies on ﬁsh and prawn farming in West Bengal have mainly discussed the viability of integrated culture of ﬁshprawn and paddy, particularly in the Sunderban estuarine region (for example, Central Soil Salinity Research Institute 1988; Chakraborti et al 2002; Chattopadhyay et al 1983; Das et al 1996; Ghosh 2001; Natarajan 1983). It is argued in these studies that prior to the introduction of prawn farming, land in these areas was used for agriculture, for paddy cultivation during the monsoon, when salinity of the soil decreased.
september 1, 2012 vol xlvii no 35
EPW Economic & Political Weekly
Prawn farming was introduced in Tentultala in 1990 and it was done in brackish water. Prior to 2002. a village was selected in which prawn farming was done extensively. Few studies discuss the impact of prawn farming on the livelihood of the local population in Sunderban region in detail. parsia and tilapia were the most important varieties of prawn and ﬁsh cultured in the medium and low saline ﬁsh farms. West Bengal (Figures 1. ﬁsh farmers were mainly dependent on natural food for farmed ﬁsh and prawns. water intake and draining of water was managed through sluice gates. its distribution among the different sections of the population and employment in the Sunderban estuarine region. He argued that the introduction of prawn farming had led to the establishment of wholesale markets and gave a boost to the transport industry. 2 and 3). and all of these are descriptive. a state highway. In that context. Section 4 discusses the basic features of Tentultala. 2 Location Tentultala is located in Minakhan block of North 24 Parganas. attached to each ﬁsh farm. According to Natarajan (1983: 29): Paddy cultivation in coastal saline regions being dependent almost entirely on the availability of monsoon precipitation. 2012 vol xlvii no 35 . located in the medium saline region of the Sunderbans. was the chosen study area since it satisﬁed this criterion perfectly. there was selective stocking of the giant tiger prawn in the ﬁsh farms which was not in consonance with the traditional method. there was no speciﬁc stocking density and periodic harvesting during full moon and new moon periods. However. Section 3 discusses the ﬁeldwork methodology. Since Economic & Political Weekly EPW Figure 3: Minakhan Block and Tentultala Mouja Minakhan 0051 2 3 4 Kilometres Tentultala 2002. parsia and tilapia along with giant tiger prawn (Penaeus Monodon).SPECIAL ARTICLE These studies put forth the argument that land in the Sunderban estuarine region of West Bengal was proﬁtably utilised through the introduction of prawn farming. Section 5 identiﬁes the different classes in Tentultala. an offshoot from the Raimangal River.6 The paper is organised as follows. Ghosh (2001) has argued that giant tiger prawn. Section 6 discusses the importance of ﬁsh farming as sources of employment and income in the study village. Tentultala. Figure 1: West Bengal West Bengal North 24 Parganas Figure 2: North 24 Parganas and Minakhan Block North 24 Parganas Minakhan block Naskar (1985) argued that prawn farming in the Sunderban estuarine region had led to the economic growth of the region. Section 8 concludes the paper. ﬁsh and prawn farming was done. Fish farmers in the village practised the traditional method of farming. land was used for paddy cultivation for four months during the monsoon (July-October). for the remaining eight months (November-June). Section 7 analyses the impact of ﬁsh farming on patterns of landholding. He argued that landowners who had leased out land to ﬁsh farmers had received rent that had enhanced their livelihood security. 69 september 1. None have analysed. getting a good crop every year is absolutely uncertain. These had resulted in increase in demand for labour whereby the daily labourers received employment for the whole year. the impact of growth in prawn and ﬁsh farming on household incomes. and prawn farmers have been termed ﬁsh farmers. It is located adjacent to Kumarjole Khal that starts from the river Sakha Bidyadhari.4 The location of the village facilitated the production of rohu. The nearest town.3 Since this paper is based mainly on primary data. Tentultala. I have used prawn farming and ﬁsh farming synonymously in this paper. distribution of incomes and work participation rates in the study village. Ghusighata is situated on the Basanti Road. is about two kilometres away. He argued that in these regions carp culture was taken up after the monsoon to make use of freshwater conditions. brackish water paddy-cum-ﬁsh culture not only provides a substantial subsidiary income to the farmers by increasing not only the biological production per unit land area but also generates a year-wise employment opportunity to the local people which is about 3 times higher to those in seasonal paddy cultivation. Section 2 discusses the location of the study village.5 It was traditional in the sense that ﬁsh farms were tidally fed. Ghusighata. land in Tentultala was used entirely for prawn farming and it was almost a perennial activity in the village. depending on local tidal effect. on the basis of statistical data. as noted by Alagarswamy (1995).
land revenues paid. Data on employment in ﬁsh farming was collected for different members of the household. In 2005-06. of ﬁsh farms and agricultural land). The precise criteria used for identifying each of these classes were as follows: (1) Big Farmers of Fish: Households which derived their incomes mainly from prawn farming. May-June 2006.5.4 100. almost 96. There were higher secondary schools in Ghusighata (two kilometres away). of resident households in Tentultala.9 15. and the extent of their operational holdings (that is. 2012 vol xlvii no 35 EPW Economic & Political Weekly In 2005-06. about 44. The average household size in 2005-06 was 5. All Hindus in the village were SCs. this class comprised Table 1: Number and Proportion of Households in Different Socio-economic Categories. Net income in ﬁsh and prawn farming was derived by deducting the paid-out costs from the gross value of output. For each member of a household.3%. In 2005-06. Rental incomes of each of the households that had leased out land were collected in the survey. Chandipur (three kilometres away) and Ghatakpukur (seven kilometres away). 1994.4% of the total extent of operational holdings. Data on days of employment in a year. I have used the Cost A 2 concept of the CACP. there was a middle school (up to the 10th standard) and a primary school (up to the ﬁfth standard) in the village. Data on costs on hired labour. conventional criteria used for analysing agrarian class structure could not be applied to the village. The means of transport within the village are manually-driven van rickshaws or motor van rickshaws. the number of calendar days worked. Hindus comprised the rest. Muslims (781 out of 1. daily wage earnings and daily hours of work in other non-agricultural occupations was collected for each member of the household who were employed in different occupations. Data on costs on inputs like seeds. six households also leased out plots of land (that were not contiguous to their ﬁsh farms) to other prawn farmers. The data was collected from a census survey of households in May-June 2006. about 41. Farmers were issued licences to operate ﬁsh farms under the West Bengal Fish Producers’ Licensing Order. Agricultural employment and non-agricultural employment other than ﬁsh farming was rarer as compared to the employment in ﬁsh farms and so household members recalled employment in these occupations clearly.1 2.1 2. rent paid for leased land. 3 Fieldwork Methodology The core of this study is based on primary data. The female literacy rate in the village is 53.SPECIAL ARTICLE Tentultala is about 34 kilometres from Kolkata and frequent buses to Kolkata are available from Ghusighata. Of the total number of households. did not participate in wage labour and operated ﬁsh farms that were more than 10 acres were classiﬁed as big farmers of ﬁsh.5% of the total population. In 2005-06. rent paid for leased land and hired labour was taken from each cultivating household. the pattern of labour deployment and participation in labour market. 5 Classification of Households in Tentultala Since crop production was only of marginal importance in the economy of Tentultala. and they belonged to the Paundra Kshatriya caste. (2) Medium Farmers of Fish: Among the households for which prawn farming was the main source of income. It has an allweather road passing through it. the nearest government-sponsored college was in Bhangar (about 10 kilometres away). ﬁsh and prawn fries.7 4. 4 Basic Features of Tentultala 638 females (48%) in the village. those that operated ﬁsh farms of at least three acres but not more than 10 acres september 1. and from this the gross value of output of ﬁsh and prawns that were sold in the market was computed. was used for prawn farming. the rest was used for agriculture. In this class. Fish farming was the main source of employment in Tentultala. irrigation. sale and price of ﬁsh and prawns from each prawn farming household. ﬁsh and prawn fees. did not use family labour for agriculture and ﬁsh farming. the total population of Tentultala was 1.3%.336 and the total number of households 244. ﬁve households were also engaged in other businesses or had small extent of agricultural land. There were 698 males (52%) and 70 .8 Data was collected for month-wise production. chemicals. Data on incomes from businesses and salaried government and private jobs was collected for different members of the household who participated in these occupations. Of these. Tentultala (2005-06) Socio-economic Categories Number of Households Proportion of in Each Category the Total (%) Hired manual labourers Households primarily dependent on rental income from land Small farmers of fish Medium farmers of fish Big farmers of fish Households primarily dependent on businesses other than agriculture and fish farming Salaried employees Total Source: Field survey.2 0. daily hours of work and daily wages was collected for each month and operation. their role in the process of ﬁsh and prawn farming. crop by crop and for each operation.3%) were Muslims. fertilisers. and land revenues and licence fees paid was collected from each of the households involved in the production of prawns and ﬁsh. 114 70 10 5 7 37 1 244 46. As in ﬁsh farming. In the thesis.7 Cost of production of ﬁsh farming households resembled Cost A2 as deﬁned by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).336) constituted 58. Data on employment and wage earnings in agriculture was collected for every member of the household employed in agricultural tasks. fertilisers. Net incomes from crop production for each of the households are computed for individual crops over paid-out costs.5% of the total population.7 28.0 seven households (Table 1). pesticides.7% were scheduled castes (SCs) and the rest (55. the corresponding ﬁgure for males is 70. In 200506. socio-economic classes in Tentultala were identiﬁed on the basis of source of income.
8 25. These households were classiﬁed as hired manual labourers.1 83. which included many relatively income. As a result.6 7. In 2005-06.1 – – – – 16. motor van/ rickshaw driving and tuitions.5 23. As a result.8 5.6 0. Among these households.0 8.8 1. agriculture and hiring out labour. wage labour was the primary source of income for 114 households out of 244 households that were residents in Tentultala (Table 1).5 0. small landowners in particular. Tentultala (2005-06. ﬁve households belonged to this class (Table 1). Of households in this class. these comprised 4.4 1.1 6. 6 Fish Farming as a Source of Income and Employment in Tentultala Fish farming was the most important source of income and employment in Tentultala.1 9. (4) Households Primarily Dependent on Rental Income from Land: Many households in Tentultala. bargadars sub-leased barga land to the prawn farmers. Also. In 2005-06. and 10 were themselves engaged in prawn farming. (7) Salaried Employees: In 2005-06. 16 had some earnings from wage labour.8 Source: Field survey. Table 2 shows composition of household income in Tentultala. (3) Small Farmers of Fish: Among the households for which prawn farming was the main source of income.9 12. Typically. Among them.6 1. This household did not perform manual wage labour in ﬁsh farming or agriculture and did not have own businesses.1 34. Some of these households had the advantage of owning land close to the main channel so they could directly get access to brackish water.5 2. two households were engaged in self-employment/business occupations and agriculture and three households participated in wage labour. These have been classiﬁed as households dependent primarily on rental income from land. in %) S No Sources of Income Share in Total Household Income 1 Primary sector a Profit income from prawn and fish production b Rental income from leasing out land in fish farms c Wage income from hiring out labour in fish farming d Income from cultivation of agricultural crops e Agricultural wage labour 2 Secondary and tertiary sectors a Income from self-employment/business occupations b Wage income from other occupations c Salaried income from regular non-manual work 3 Total Source: Field survey. Table 2: Shares of Different Economic Activities in Total Household Income.9 2. There were 17 households that had small incomes from petty businesses.0 13. 74. 18 had rental income from leasing out land for prawn farming. (5) Hired Manual Labourers: In 2005-06.3 4. for 70 households. rent from the land leased out to ﬁsh farmers was the main source of income. self-employment/ business occupations.2 6.2 2. May-June 2006.9 17. About four households also leased out some plots of land (which were not contiguous with their ﬁsh farms) to other ﬁsh farmers and earned rental income. there were 10 such households in Tentultala. This is shown in Tables 2 and 3.8 23. About six households leased out some plots of land (that were not contiguous to their ﬁsh farms) to other prawn farmers and earned rental income. 31 households belonging to this class were not involved in any other economic activity and depended totally on rental income from leasing out land. leased out their land to the prawn farmers. those who farmed ﬁsh and prawns on less than three acres of land were classiﬁed as small farmers of ﬁsh.5 20. Tentultala (2005-06. they were able to do prawn farming on relatively small extent of land. (6) Households Primarily Dependent on Businesses Other Than Agriculture and Fish Farming: In 2005-06.and asset-poor households. In 2005-06.2 25. Members of the working age group participated in various kinds of petty businesses. 23 households had small plots of land which was either leased out to other prawn farmers or used by the households for prawn farming. incomes from selfemployment occupations/businesses were the only source of income for 23 households.SPECIAL ARTICLE were classiﬁed as medium farmers of ﬁsh.6 0. In the reference year. september 1.1% of all resident households in the village (Table 1).6 5. in %) S No Type of Occupation Men Women Total 1 a b (i) (ii) (iii) 2 3 4 5 6 a b Occupations in fish farming Wage labour in fish farming Businesses and self-employed occupations in fish farming Fish farmers Commission agents Sellers of fish and prawn fries Businesses and self-employed occupations other than those in fish farming Wage labour occupations other than fish farming Manual salaried non-agricultural occupations other than fish farming Salaried non-manual employment Cultivation and agricultural wage labour Cultivation Agricultural wage labour 74. Among them. four among them also participated in wage labour and two among them were engaged in other activities.9 59. Of these.1 24.8 0. the main income of one household was from salaried regular employment outside ﬁsh farming (Table 1). incomes of these households from prawn and ﬁsh production were small. 37 households in Tentultala obtained their income primarily from Economic & Political Weekly EPW self-employment/business occupations other than agriculture or prawn farming (Table 1).4 3. 39 were also involved in other activities like prawn farming. 51 households were solely dependent on hiring out labour.9 – – – – – – 75.0 Table 3: Proportion of the Workforce That Participated in Different Economic Activities by Gender Groups.9 7.7 54. This class also included a number of small landowners who were able to produce ﬁsh and prawns on their own land or were able to lease in a small amount of land. May-June 2006.1 83. 2012 vol xlvii no 35 71 . This household earned rental income from land leased out to prawn farmers.1 19.4 100. There were ﬁve households that were involved in cultivation of agricultural crops.
Commission agents are involved in marketing of ﬁsh and prawns. share of income from self-employment and business occupations was highest.485 0.1 2. Businesses in ﬁsh farming were also run exclusively by men. Sellers of ﬁsh and prawn fries are involved in selling and marketing of these products.340 0. 2. about 23. Table 3 shows Table 4: Distribution of Operational Holdings across Socio-economic Categories in Tentultala (2005-06) Socio-economic Categories Number of Propor.7 acres of land in 2005-06.5% of the male workforce was engaged in some businesses in ﬁsh farming.9 15.93. 2012 vol xlvii no 35 EPW Economic & Political Weekly .6 1. of very small size. Of the sources of income in secondary and tertiary sectors. Almost the entire income in the primary sector was from ﬁsh farming.527-0.SPECIAL ARTICLE In 2005-06.379-0. (3) Rental income from leasing out land for ﬁsh farming. Bhaumik (2008).3 – 100.9% of male workers were commission agents.8%.6 228. Wages from other occupations and salaries from non-manual work were other sources of income in the secondary and tertiary sectors.410 0.7 4.0 4. the corresponding ﬁgure for females was 83. owned or leased land in neighbouring villages.2% male workers cultivated crops on land under their operational holding while about 2.3 45. Table 2 shows that in 2005-06 almost three-fourths (74. In comparison to ﬁsh farming. Ramkumar et al (2007). ﬁsh farming was the most important source of employment in Tentultala.1% of the total workers were sellers of ﬁsh and prawn fries.6 1.9 9. regular).370 NA Source: Field survey. These households accounted for 71. which were. About 4.3 – 328.370 0.580 NA 0. (5) Wage income from hiring out labour in agriculture.Extent of Share of Households tion of Operational Area the Total Holdings Operated (%) (Acres) (%) that in 2005-06.1%) of total household income was received from the primary sector. (4) Income from cultivation of agricultural crops. Maharashtra and Rajasthan 2006-07 NCAER survey across 1.2 0.0 Fish farming led to the consolidation of land in Tentultala.1% (47 workers). Only a few households in Tentultala cultivated.7% of the male workforce (226 workers) was employed in occupations in ﬁsh farming.500 0.7 16. In comparison. (6) Own businesses. among self-employment and business occupations related to ﬁsh farms. in which there were no households that had owned more than 3. Consolidation of land in Tentultala was done through large-scale leasing of land by big farmers of ﬁsh who had access to capital. 7 Impact of Fish Farming in Tentultala 7. (8) Salaried non-manual work (government and private). (2) Wage income from hiring out labour in ﬁsh farming (casual. the proportion of male workforce who worked as commission agents and sellers of ﬁsh and prawn fries was lower. About 74. very few workers were engaged in agriculturebased activities. May-June 2006. 2006. (7) Wage income from hiring out labour in other occupations (casual. Janaiah et al (2001). In 2005-06.1 2. Land plots were consolidated to reap the beneﬁts of economies of scale in the construction of channels through which water was supplied in ﬁsh farms. Reference Year Gini Coefficient of Household Income Gini Coefficient of Per Capita Income Table 5: Gini Coefficients of Household and Per Capita Incomes from Other Recent Studies in India Study Location of Villages Studied Bakshi (2010) Swaminathan and Rawal (2010) Azam and Shariff (2009) Bhaumik (2008) Djurfeldt et al (2008) Ramkumar et al (2007) Thakur et al (2001) Janaiah et al (2001) Tentultala 2004-05 Study of three villages in West Bengal 2005-06 Study of eight villages in Andhra Pradesh. as a source of income. Djurfeldt et al (2008). Swaminathan and Rawal (2010) and Thakur et al (2001). Share of income from cultivation of agricultural crops and wage from hiring out labour in agricultural work in total household income was 0. In all.7 28. 72 september 1. Of the various tasks in ﬁsh farming. Table 4 shows distribution of operational holdings across classes in Tentultala. No land within Tentultala mouza was used for crop production in 2005-06.6% of the total land leased in for ﬁsh farming in Tentultala in 2005-06.3 13.1 Impact on Patterns of Landholding Hired manual labourers 114 Households primarily dependent on rental income from land 70 Small farmers of fish 10 Medium farmers of fish 5 Big farmers of fish 7 Households primarily dependent on businesses other than agriculture and fish farming 37 Salaried employees 1 Total 244 Source: Field survey.4-0.0 69.500 0.740 0. there were 57 female workers and 302 male workers in the age group 18-60.765 villages in 16 major states and 195 districts of India 2005 12 villages from two districts in West Bengal 1999-2000 Study of six villages in two districts in Tamil Nadu 2003-04 ICRISAT study of six villages in three districts of Andhra Pradesh 2003 Study of eight villages in Bihar 1996-97 Study of six villages in Chhattisgarh 1996-97 0. In 2005-06. households in Tentultala derived incomes from the following sources: (1) Income from ﬁsh and prawn production. While 0. as is the feature in West Bengal. Table 3 shows the proportion of male and female workers in this age group in Tentultala. Almost 13% of the total household income was from self-employment/business occupations. Channels were not built to supply water to individual plots of land in Tentultala. 46.55 0. Bakshi (2010).4 100.590 0.686 NA NA NA 0.1 29.491-0.1% male workers had participated in agricultural wage employment.34-0.29-0. Agriculture. The Gini coefﬁcient of distribution of operational holdings was 0. regular). almost 21% of the male workforce in Tentultala constituted ﬁsh farmers involved in producing ﬁsh and prawns. was of lesser importance as compared to ﬁsh farming. Gini coefficients of household incomes from villages other than Tentultala were obtained from Azam and Shariff (2009).9 4.7 4. engaged in different economic activities in 2005-06. Uttar Pradesh. women were involved in removal of algae in the farms.
This was in sharp contrast with rural West Bengal as a whole where an increase in the proportion in total female population employed in “household industry” and “other” activities was seen between 1991 and 2001.2 1.1 India data on work Source: District Census Handbook.5 4.7% of households belonging to the class of hired manual labourers received only about 18. In 2005-06.5 0.8 8. Gender Groups between 1991 and 2001.Tentultala Female 7.6 1.6 14.3 11. Table 7 shows a steep decline of over 3 percentage points in work participation rates of both men and women in Tentultala between 1991 and 2001.5 Data on occupational structure of the workforce presented in Table 8 shows that there was a steep decline in the proportion of cultivators and agricultural workers (particularly women) in the population in Tentultala between 1991 and 2001. having registered an impressive growth rate in prawn farming between 2000-01 and 2006-07. Economic & Political Weekly EPW No studies have analysed the impact of prawn farming on household incomes and employment in West Bengal.4 than their male counter.2 parts (Tables 7 and 8).09 0.59. Primary Census participation rates in Abstract.9 15.7 0. In 2005-06.1 1.5 8.3 33.5 8. 8 Conclusions income. however.4 18. This is shown in Table 6. across socio-economic classes and on the basis of statistical data. Census of India.0 0.7 23.1 18. the share in area operated was least for the hired manual labourers and the households dependent primarily on businesses other than agriculture and ﬁsh farming.3%.6% of the total operational area.3 0.5 16. 7.5 47. Source: District Census Handbook.7 8. Tentultala (2005-06. 3. Hired manual labourers Households primarily dependent on rental income from land Small farmers of fish Medium farmers of fish Big farmers of fish Households primarily dependent on businesses apart from agriculture and fish farming Salaried employees Source: Field survey.40 0.2 10.3 27.1 2. The development of capitalist relations of production is clearly the major trend in ﬁsh farming. Census of India.9 0. which were the most important source of employment in Tentultala.1 0.7 4.20 0. In contrast. This study shows that capitalist development has led to differentiation of the peasantry into seven distinct classes.2 Table 7 shows Census of Female 13.8 3. mainly on account of loss of employment for women in agriculture. The period between 1991 and 2001 saw a shift in land use in Tentultala from agriculture to ﬁsh farming.8 7.5 0.7% of total household income.2 0. Table 8: Proportion of Total Male and Female Population in Tentultala and West Bengal (Rural) Who Were Employed in Different Occupations (in %) Areas Occupations Tentultala West Bengal (Rural) Male Female Male Female 1991 2001 1991 2001 1991 2001 1991 2001 Main workers Marginal workers Cultivators (main+marginal) Agricultural labourers (main+marginal) Household industry (main+marginal) Other workers (main+marginal) 56.5 13.6 45.SPECIAL ARTICLE Table 4 shows that the big farmers of ﬁsh had the largest share in total area operated in 2005-06.2 1. Primary Census Abstract. 2012 vol xlvii no 35 . there were wide disparities in incomes across classes. Table 5 shows that the Gini coefﬁcients of household and per capita income in Tentultala were comparable to Gini coefﬁcients of most unequal villages and were higher than Gini coefﬁcients reported in most studies. May-June 2006.2 3. Table 8 shows decline in work participation rates in Tentultala between 1991 and 2001.7 4. This is likely to have been a result of change in the pattern of land use from agriculture to ﬁsh farming over this period.3% of households that were big farmers of ﬁsh and salaried employees received about 37% of total household income.70 0.3 Impact on Work Participation Fish farming led to a decline in employment opportunities for male and female workers Table 7: Work Participation Rates across in Tentultala. 7. in %) Socio-economic Categories Proportion of Households Share in Total Income Tentultala and rural West Bengal in 1991 and 2001. However.1 3.2 Impact on Income Distribution Distribution of household income in Tentultala was extremely unequal.1 54.3 15.1 2.5 5. About 2. This is despite West Bengal being one of the largest producers of prawn in India. Of the economic classes. at the other end were the hired manual labourers dependent 73 september 1. It is particularly noteworthy that low female labour absorption in ﬁsh farms was the primary reason why very few women in Tentultala were workers.2 19.7 26.2 0.3 15.5 3. Table 6 shows that ﬁsh farming as a source of income beneﬁted a small section of the population in Tentultala.1 53.9 21. Fish farming was the main source of income in Tentultala in 2005-06 (Table 2).2 Main and marginal workers were included in calculating proportions of total male and female population who were employed in different occupations.3 6.58. Work participation rates were low among women because mainly male workers were employed in ﬁsh farms. 46. Households in this class had lowest levels of Table 6: Share of Different Classes in Total Number of Households and Total Income.80 51. West Bengal (rural) Male 52. 1971-2001. This study is a contribution in ﬁlling this gap in the existing literature. Table 5 (p 72) presents estimates of the Gini coefﬁcient of household and per capita income from various recent village-level and large-scale surveys. The Gini coefﬁcient of per capita income was 0.50 2.9 2. Tentultala and Rural West Bengal (in %) the impact was more adYear Gender Groups 1991 2001 verse for female workers Area Male 57.9 5.6 3. 1991 and 2001. This was in sharp contrast with rural West Bengal as a whole where work participation rates of rural women increased by about 5 percentage points and those of rural men increased by about 2 percentage points.9% of these households had about 69. The Gini coefﬁcient of distribution of annual household income for all households in Tentultala was 0.4 13. While on the one hand there were the big farmers of ﬁsh that had leased in large tracts of land and had a major share in the total operated area.9 4.5 1. To put this in perspective.8 2.7 28.4 28. the shares in area operated by each of these classes were 1. about 46.
Analysis of primary data shows that almost three-fourths of total household income was from ﬁsh farming. J. Ghosh. Fish farming had led to concentration of land among the big famers of ﬁsh in Tentultala.7% of the male workforce (in the age group 18-60) was employed in the ﬁsh farms. R K. Of these. Djurfeldt. Economic & Political Weekly. Central Soil Salinity Research Institute (1988): “Rice-Fish Multiple Cropping in Coastal Saline Areas”. Inequality in distribution of income was very high in Tentultala. Bhattacharya (2009) had analysed net incomes from prawn production for different classes of farmers. (i) value of hired human labour. Bhaumik. 14(1&2): 229-32. for instance. september 1. no feeding. Alagarswamy (1995) and Ghosh (2001) for the classiﬁcation of ﬁsh farms in the Sunderban region of West Bengal on the basis of salinity level. big farmers of ﬁsh. Journal of the Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research. M L Bose and A G Agarwal (2001): “Poverty and Income Distribution in Rainfed and Irrigated Ecosystems: Village Studies in Chhattisgarh”. India. Andhra Pradesh.in/index. Cost A2 includes. 49(4): 419-26. A (2001): “Fisheries Development of Estuarine Wetlands in West Bengal”. (vi) value of seed. Alagarswamy (1995) for a discussion of the classiﬁcation of techniques in prawn farming. Chakraborti. 45(46): 50-61. Swaminathan. the corresponding ﬁgure for women workers (in the same age group) was 83. it does not analyse the impact of prawn farming in household incomes or employment in the study areas. Alagarswamy listed the characteristics of the traditional method of prawn farming as. (ix) value of fertilisers. See. (iv) value of owned machine labour. Also. Economic & Political Weekly. S K (2008): “Rural Non-farm Employment. Bangkok.6 acres of land. Poverty and Inequality in West Bengal” in S K Bhaumik (ed. (ii) value of hired bullock labour.com/sol3/papers cfm? abstract_id=1433105). P (2009): “Economics of Shrimp Farming: A Comparative Study of Traditional vs Scientiﬁc Shrimp Farming in West Bengal”. Indian Journal of Fish. ﬁelds called locally as bheries. The West Bengal Human Development Report 2004 (UNDP 2004) identiﬁed the Sunderban region as one of the backward areas in the state. while the others were left out. PhD thesis. for instance. Global Theme on Agro-Ecosystems Report No 34. International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics and the Andhra Pradesh Rural Livelihoods Programme (APRLP). 1(1). Economic & Political Weekly. collection at sluice gates by traps and by bag nets. Government of West Bengal to get a licence. A. U K Laha and B Mazumdar (1996): “Studies on Technology on Paddy-Cum-Fish and Prawn Farming in Low Lying Coastal Zone of West Bengal”. (xi) depreciation on implements and farm buildings. 1(1): 43-45. M L Bose. G D N Rao and T K Sreedevi (2007): “Socioeconomic Proﬁles. viewed on 2 December 2010 (http://www. Aquaculture. S P Wani. Reforming Indian Agriculture: Towards Employment Generation and Poverty Reduction (New Delhi: Sage Publications). “Fully tidally-fed. and the rest for agriculture.php?Article=6512bd43d9caa6e02c990b0 a82652dca) Thakur. Chattopadhyay. Journal of Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research. Kolkata. Women workers were more adversely affected than their male counterparts. V Athreya.59. Government of West Bengal. Patancheru. Of all the tasks in ﬁsh farming.5% of the income. Canning. K (1995): “Regional Study and Workshop on the Environmental Assessment and Management of Shrimp Farming”.SPECIAL ARTICLE primarily on working for others. organised by Food and Agriculture Organisation and Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Paciﬁc (NACA). Natarajan. Fish farming was the main source of income and employment in the study area. University of Calcutta. (vii) value of insecticides and pesticides.1%. seed resource of mixed species from the adjoining creeks and canals by auto-stocking.). K (1985): “A Short History and the Present Trends of Brackishwater Fish Culture in Paddy Fields at the Kulti-Minakhan Areas of Sunderbans in West Bengal”. The Gini coefﬁcient of per capita income distribution for all households was 0. 21-26 February. This was seen from the decline in work participation rates between 1991 and 2001 when there was a shift in land use from agriculture to ﬁsh farming. M Hossain. UNDP (2004): West Bengal Human Development Report 2004. A V (1983): “Possibilities of Brackish Water Paddy Cum Fish Farming in Coastal Saline Soils”. 35(52/53): 4664-69. Aquatic Resources and Fishing Harbours. A Rajagopal and R Vidyasagar (2008): “Agrarian Change and Social Mobility in Tamil Nadu”. 35(52/53): 4657-63.9% of the households. who comprised 2. 74. Review of Agrarian Studies. 2012 3 4 5 6 7 8 74 . 2003 -04 . A Ghosh and P K Saha (1983): “A Note on the Possibility of Salinisation of Soils under Paddy Cum Brackish Water Aquaculture in Some Coastal Saline Soils”. women workers were employed only in removal of algae in ﬁsh farms. However. seasonal ﬁelds alternating paddy (monsoon) crop with shrimp/ﬁsh crop (inter monsoon). The Institute of Social and Economic Change. Bakshi. Thailand. (xiv) miscellaneous expenses and (xv) rent paid for leased in land. These households had almost 70% of the total operated area in Tentultala. Journal of the Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research. M and A Shariff (2009): “Income Inequality in Rural India: Decomposing the Gini by Incomes Sources”. (v) hired machinery charges.4% was used for ﬁsh and prawn farming. (viii) value of manure. Fish farmers had to submit a form of application to the department of ﬁsheries. Department of Development and Planning. about 96. Government of West Bengal. Resident households in Tentultala had 328. The study is based on primary data. Azam. S Lindberg. Working Paper No 218. Ramkumar. vol xlvii no 35 EPW Economic & Political Weekly (x) irrigation charges. Janaiah. the share of income of these Notes 1 Growth rates are computed from data of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the Handbook on Fishery Statistics in West Bengal (Government of West Bengal 2003). R N. (iii) value of owned bullock labour. The big farmers of ﬁsh had clearly beneﬁted from the development of prawn farming. Government of West Bengal (2003): Handbook on Fishery Statistics of West Bengal. Production and Resource Use Patterns in Selected Semi-Arid Indian Watershed Villages”. salinity variations according to monsoon regime. Kolkata. document prepared by the Central Soil Salinity Research Institute and the Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI). B. N Jayakumar. In contrast. 1(1): 27-30.7%. M and V Rawal (2010): “Is India Really a Country of Low Income-Inequality? Observations from Eight Villages”. West Bengal. A Janaiah (2001): “Rural Income Distribution and Poverty in Bihar: Insights from Village Studies”. accounted for 33. (xii) land revenue and other taxes. See. G N. 3(2): 115-24. This was in contrast with rural West Bengal as a whole where there was an increase in proportion in the total female population of those employed in “household industry” and “other” activities between 1991 and 2001. Das. J K Sundaray and T K Ghoshal (2002): “Production of Penaeus Monodon in the Tide-fed Ponds of Sunderbans”. G. paper presented at the Summer School on Culture Based Fisheries for Inland Fisheries Development. periodic harvesting during full and new moon periods. January-June. Introduction of ﬁsh farming resulted in decline of employment opportunities for men and women workers in Tentultala. Naskar. 18 July-17 August. According to the CACP. pokkali ﬁelds and khazan lands”. Bhattacharya.ras. water intake and draining managed through sluice gates depending on local tidal effect. Barrackpore. This was the total extent of operational holdings of all residents in the village in 2005-06. higher than those reported in most village studies. A (2010): “Rural Household Incomes”.org. dependent on natural food. Almost 47% of households were hired manual labourers in 2005-06. West Bengal. 2 References Alagarswamy. households was only 18. B Shiferaw. Department of Fisheries.ssrn. (xiii) imputed value of interest on working capital. Journal of the Indian Society of Coastal Agricultural Research. Bangalore. viewed on 28 November 2010 (http://papers. This was due to loss of employment for women in agriculture and also due to the fact that it was men workers who were primarily employed in ﬁsheries. Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute (CIFRI).
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