4.2 Assets and income
The average operational holdings of project members was 1.37 hectares while the other group’s was 1.27 hectares. Bulk of the project as well as non-project members were in fact small farmers. The farmers in both the groups had their own land and the extent of irrigated land was roughly 40 per cent and 35 per cent for the project and controlled groups respectively. There are a large number of similarities in so far as basic resource endowments are concerned.
As shown in Table 5.9 no significant difference exists in terms of the ownership of assets by the two categories of farmers, although the overall value of asset holdings was 14 per cent greater for the project group members than non-participating members.
It was found that the project group member’s average annual farm income was Rs. 2,415 while that of a controlled group member was Rs. 1,948. In other words the, former was higher by 24 per cent. Of the total farm income of the project group members income from the sale of crops constituted 53 per cent, income from sale of livestock and livestock products 43 per cent and income from horticulture 4 per cent. The figures for the controlled group members for the sale of crops, livestock and horticulture were 56, 36 and 8 per cent respectively (Table 5.10). It may be noted that income of the project group members from the sale of livestock and livestock products was 45 per cent higher than controlled-group members, suggesting some favourable impact from being able to borrow from the institutional sources.
Table 5.9 Rural Nepal: Average Holding of Assets per Household
(Value in Rs.)
Table 5.10 Rural Nepal: Average Annual Farm and Non-Farm Incomes per Household
(Amount in Rs.)
The overall average annual non-farm income for the project group members was found to be higher by only 4 per cent. The contribution from different sources were more or less the same for both the groups. The interesting point was that non-farm income in the hills for the non-participating group was higher by 21 per cent than for the participating group members.
If we look at the grand total average annual income, we find that it is lower for the participating households than for the non-participating households in the hills. This has been primarily because of the higher non-farm average incomes of the non-participating members. For the Terai and the overall cases, the income of project group members was higher.
This raises an important question about the contribution of SFDP towards raising the level of income. For the participants of SFDP, there is, clearly, a loss of non-farm income which would have been earned if involvement in the project had not kept them so busy with farming activities. This raises a number of further points; but the most important one concerns the definition of income. In the survey from which data for this paper have been obtained, income refers only to money income earned. Hence, such reported income need not always reflect the consumption levels of households. The latter could be much greater simply because a rural household produces and consumes far more items than they sell for money. In a situation like this, expenditure would be a better indicator of the level of living of a household. This is shown in Table 5.11. While the expenditure is obviously greater for the project group members in the overall and the terai case, it is substantially greater for the project group members on the hills as well. On the hills, the average total family expenditure of the project group members is greater by 21 per cent than that of the non-project group members. Similarly, average expenditure of the project group members on food items is also greater by as much as 24 per cent than that of non-project group members.
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