Despite the near-normal monsoon, the farm income is expected to see only a modest growth this fiscal, due to the depressed agri commodity prices and the still lingering impacts of the note-ban and GST rollout, says a report.
"Though there is a marginal uptick in consumption it's driven by credit. Since wealth effect remains weak in the hinterland there is no large ticket consumption. Therefore, we see only a marginal improvement in overall rural income, though the monsoon has been near-normal," says JM Financial in the sixth edition of its annual report 'Rural Safari'.
The report lists the low prices of agri commodities and almost nil growth in non-farm income which constitute two-thirds of the rural income, and curbs on cash transactions and sand mining and the GST related disruptions as the main reasons for the problem.
The still continuing curbs on sand mining and cash transactions, along with GST-led disruptions and lower prices of agri-commodities have all moderated economic activity levels in the first half. This will cap the overall growth in farm income for the full fiscal year, say the brokerage's analysts, led by Arshad Perwez and Suhas Harinarayanan.
However, their survey indicates that the final kharif crop output could be higher than government's first estimate as so will be the rabi output, as barring central regions the water levels are adequate.
This is because of the weak global agri-commodity pricing, and the only saving grace for the farmers is the resilience in vegetable prices, they said.
"Vegetables constitute 25-30 of agri income and cereals that chip in with another 20 per cent, which should ensure high single-digit growth in farm income in FY18. The only areas to watch out for are the prices of pulses and oilseeds, which were the trigger for farmer-led protests during June-July this year," the analysts said.
"We expect a gradual revival in H2 backed by government spending, resumption of sand mining and easing of GST adoption. The eeal estate activity, however, has weakened further and prices have declined even in regions that were earlier resilient.
"Despite this apparent waning of the wealth effect and slower than expected growth in non-farm income, we expect a gradual pick-up in rural consumption in H2 led by the modest farm income growth supported by higher government wages, higher credit availability and farm loan waivers," they said.
The report covers nearly 73 per cent of the agri-GDP spanning 11 key farming states like Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Telangana, and Uttar Pradesh, among others.
The analysts travelled over 3,000 kms across these states between July and October to prepare the report.
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