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Transition from Agriculture to Non-Agriculture Occupations in West Bengal, India: Causes and Way Forward

This empirical study reveals that agriculture in West Bengal, a major state in India, is nonviable as a primary source of occupation for most agricultural households who have been distressed to diversify to the nonfarm sector. However, the underdeveloped rural nonfarm sector does not leave enough economic space for the distressed farmers to have a smooth and remunerative transition from agricultural to nonagricultural employment. Therefore, most farmers end up clinging precariously to the agriculture sector while engaging in nonremunerative activities in the rural nonfarm sector for sustenance. This article identifies several statistically significant drivers of employment diversification through a logit model and revisited India's age-old farm–size agricultural productivity debate to conclude that agricultural production is not scale-neutral. Therefore, to make agriculture viable and sustainable, the average operational landholdings need to increase through reverse tenancy and/or cooperative farming and through creating gainful employment opportunities in the rural nonfarm sector. This will help farm-dependent, semi-marginal, and marginal agricultural households to transition from agricultural to nonagricultural occupations.


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