Agriculture is the backbone of India’s rural economy. According to the 70th round of the NSSO Report, nearly 60% (or 90.2 million) of the country’s rural households are involved in farming, which makes agriculture the largest employer in rural India.

Most of these farmers are small and marginal — farmers who cultivate between 0 and 2 hectares of land. As of the 2010-11 Agriculture Census, 85% of India’s farmers are small or marginal, a number that has been continuously increasing 0.4% per year on average since 1995-96. However, small and marginal farmers only hold 44.9% of India’s total cultivable area.

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Small and marginal farmers suffer from elevated levels of poverty. In 2012-13, 36.5% of small and marginal farmers were classified as Below the Poverty Line (BPL), compared to 23.4% of farmers with over 2 hectares of land. Small and marginal farmers were also over twice as likely to have an Antyodaya card, a ration card for highly subsidized food that is only available to the poorest of the poor in India.

Learn more about how India identifies families below the poverty line. 

In 2015, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set out to reduce extreme poverty for India’s small and marginal farmers. Their plan was to invest $8 million in initiatives for small and marginal farmers in Bihar, Odisha, and Uttar Pradesh. To make sure these investments were effective, they wanted to use data to target their investments based on maximum impact and internal priorities (female empowerment, agricultural extension, nutrition, and more).

The Gates Foundation partnered with SocialCops to create a data-driven way for teams at the Gates Foundation to target their investments. Our Insights Platform was deployed to aggregate data from public sources, clean and structure the data, and visualize the data in an intuitive, useful dashboard.

One of our data scientists went into the details of this case study at the Fifth Elephant 2016, one of India’s premier data conferences. Watch his talk here. 

Check out the deck below for a full story of the case study, plus information about how we analyzed and visualized 31 data sources, 209 indicators, and 9 indices to create a complete picture of agriculture in India.


Interested in learning more? Check out our capabilities deck for information on what we do and how our platform works, or drop us a message!

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