India's COVID-19 social assistance package and its impact on the agriculture sector

Deepak Varshney, Anjani Kumar, Ashok K. Mishra, Shahidur Rashid, Pramod K. Joshi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Context: CVOID-19 induced significant economic and social disruptions in India. Rural households, including smallholders, were affected by loss in migrant income, livelihood and farm and non-farm incomes. During this lockdown, the Indian government enacted several emergency legislations to provide direct and indirect relief to workers and households. India's COVID-19 social assistance package, namely, PM-GKY, announced in March 2020, was designed to provide immediate relief to the vulnerable population. The PM-GKY provided cash direct benefit transfers (DBT) and in-kind supports (IKS) through existing schemes. Objectives: This study examines the impact of India's government assistance package (known as Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana or PM-GKY), announced immediately after the COVID-19 lockdown, on the procurement of agricultural inputs for the upcoming farming season. Methods: The study uses a quasi-experimental method and survey data from 1,789 smallholder households in three northern Indian states (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh). Results: The result suggests that the fungibility of funds received under the government transfer package was significant in alleviating credit constraints and increasing agricultural investments in agricultural inputs. The farmers who received benefits from the PM-GKY scheme spent significantly more on the procurement of seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides. Conclusions: The disbursement of cash transfers in the three states showed that emergency relief packages had reached the vulnerable sections of Indian society. Overall, 89-94% of households benefited from direct cash transfers. Perhaps lower transaction costs, minimal leakages, and immediate delivery make a strong case for direct cash transfers. The above advantages facilitate the provision of relief to a large proportion of vulnerable sections of Indian society in a short period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103049
JournalAgricultural Systems
Volume189
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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