Poverty and agrarian distress in Orissa

The relatively lower reduction of poverty in Orissa, 0.2 percentage points per annum from 48.6% in 1993-94 to 46.4% in 2004-05, has been a matter of concern. The current exercise attempts to analyse whether part of the explanation lies in the state of affairs in agriculture. An analysis for 2004-05 shows that incidence of poverty is 47% for rural and 44% for urban Orissa. The vulnerable sub-groups are southern (73% rural, 55% urban) and northern (59% rural, 43% urban) across National Sample Survey (NSS) regions, the scheduled tribes (76% rural, 65% urban) and scheduled castes (50% rural, 75% urban) across social groups, the agricultural labourers (65%) and other labourers (52%) in rural areas and casual labourers (56%) in urban areas across household type, and marginal and small farmers (51%) across size-class of land possessed in rural areas. What is even worrying is a much greater incidence of calorie poor (79% rural and 49% urban). This reflects a gap in the poverty line and the calorie that it is supposed to represent and a seeming nutritional crisis even among the groups that resorts to hard labour that includes among others marginal and small farmers and landless households