A major portion of Bangladeshs population is based on rural areas and the labor force grows faster than the population. Although agriculture has been observed from the occupational distribution of employment as the primary occupation (62.8%), it alone cannot provide for household requirements. Consequently, most farm families try to derive their living from a wide range of both on-farm and off-farm activities. Rural women are also more or less directly involved in different farm and off-farm activities in addition to household work. Even though women constitute 47% of the total population, only 18% are economically involved in the total labor force.
A typical farmer in Bangladesh produces neither specialized crops nor rice crops, but combines other enterprises such as cattle, poultry and fish along with non-agricultural enterprises. These enterprises are interlinked and together constitute integrated farming. Integrated farming is a way to supply necessary commodities to households and to maximize farm income with the integration of crop and non-crop agricultural enterprises. By pursuing integrated farming, farmers use their family labor and recycle the resources among different agricultural enterprises to produce the necessities within the farm unit and thereby improve as well as stabilize their economic conditions.
To date, little research has been performed on the employment patterns and
income generation of farm households. Juvancic and Erjavec (2005) provided an
empirical insight into the determinants of employment choice behavior of farm
holders and identified that low labor mobility reduces the efficiency of labor
allocation on agricultural holdings in Slovenia. Rebecca (2002) concluded that
social and cultural constraints to womens employment in Jordan persist
despite increasing female labor force participation rates. Graziano da and Del
Grossi (2001) suggested promotion of a real urbanization of the rural world
to create better living and employment conditions in rural areas. Estudillo
and Otsuka (1999) found that there has been a structural shift of household
income away from land toward labor through the adoption of modern rice varieties.
Simmons and Salinder (1997) argued that off-farm employment offers a considerable
scope for both family and wage employment. However, no researcher has measured
the employment patterns and income generation of farm households in integrated
farming on the basis of farm size (i.e., landless, marginal, small, medium and
large). Considering the above facts, this study is conducted with the following
objectives: a) to analyze the employment patterns of farm households on the
basis of gender structure, i.e., the male-female composition and b) to explore
the determinants of income of farm households.
Materials and Methods
This study covered 18 villages in three districts (i.e., Mymensingh, Kishoregonj
and Netrokona) in Bangladesh. The study areas were chosen on the basis of the
availability of different categories of farmers and other characteristics including
favorable climate and land topography suitable for production of crop and non-crop
enterprises, better marketing facilities and communication for augmenting income
from different types of farm and off-farm activities. A stratified random sampling
was employed for this study. In total, 110 farmers were selected, of which 30
were landless (below 0.20 ha), 30 were marginal (0.21 to 0.60 ha), 20 were small
(0.61 to 1.0 ha), 20 were medium (1.1 to 3.0 ha) and 10 were large (more than
3.0 ha). The study covered one year of employment and income from April 2002
to March 2003; however, this research was conducted in 2005 at Nagoya University.
Data and other necessary information were collected through direct interviews.
All the data collected from the field survey were grouped, summarized and presented
in tabular forms. An attempt was made to explore the determinants of annual
income of the farm households using a multiple regression model as follows:
||Annual farm household income;
||Constant or intercept of the function;
||Farm size (including pond and homestead areas);
||Number of family laborers (members aged 10 years and above);
||Number of enterprises;
||Age of adult members;
||Working hours per week on farm activities by males;
||Working hours per week on off-farm activities by males;
||Working hours per week on farm activities by females;
||Working hours per week on off-farm activities by females;
||Dummy for farming type effect (1 for integrated farming, 0 otherwise)
||Coefficients of respective variables; and
The authors used relevant variables to determine the households annual income. It was tested so that no multi-colinearity occurred among different independent variables. The above model was used separately for overall, integrated1) and conventional farming2).
Family Size and Dependency Ratio
The average family size was found to be the biggest for marginal farmers,
followed by landless, small, medium and large farmers (Table 1).
The average size of selected farm families was bigger than the national average
of 5.0. The dependency ratio expresses how many members of a family were dependent
on a single, economically working/earning person. It was observed that the dependency
ratio of landless farmers was higher than that of medium, small, marginal and
large farmers. It is found from the equation3) that the number of
working persons had a more important effect on the dependency ratio.
Patterns of Farm Households Employment
Employment patterns indicate the involvement of rural farm households from
farm to non-farm avenues depending on physical strength, skill and the time
effectively devoted. Rural households used to work on their farms and on the
same day engaged in some off-farm activities such as petty trading, tailoring,
carpentry, handicrafts, rickshaw pulling, etc., or migrate to other places during
agricultural off-seasons. To identify the patterns of employment on farm and
off-farm activities, the members of the sample farm households were classified
on the basis of: (a) types of main occupations, (b) age, © education and
(d) farm size.
Farm households were those in which all employed members were engaged in farm activities as their principal occupation (Table 2). In the contrary case, the family was considered a non-farm household. The incidence of off-farm time spent was lower among farm households than non-farm households. However, it can be pointed out that both types of households were dependent on farm and off-farm activities, implying that farm households not so far attained full specialization of one profession in respect to gender.
Most family members were primarily employed in the agricultural sector and also spent a good part of their productive time on non-agricultural activities (Table 3). It is evident that males and females aged 15-54 years spent about two-fifths and four-fifths of their working time, respectively, on farm activities. Some factors including higher income and potentially lower risk attract male members to non-farm employment. As many non-farm activities are tough jobs physically, female members participation is low. Teenaged males worked more than 55-year olds because of their good physique, innovativeness, enthusiastic nature and social traditions. Older men and most women spent a higher proportion of their time on farm activities.
Regarding employment patterns on the basis of education, it is found that the participation of earning members in off-farm jobs was positively correlated with education levels (Table 4). Of note, weekly time spent on off-farm activities was roughly double for the male population that had primary and secondary education and three times higher for graduate members in comparison to illiterate males.
Table 5 shows that landless and marginal farm households
spent about three-fifths of their working time on farm activities. In contrast,
small and medium farmers used more than 60% of their time on farm activities,
whereas large farmers allocated only 9% of their working time for farm activities.
For males, the proportionate amount of time spent on off-farm activities by
large farmers was double than the time spent by landless, marginal and small
|| Family structure of farm households
|Source: Field survey, 2003
|| Employment patterns by type of main occupation (hour basis
|Source: Field survey, 2003
|| Weekly time spent by age (hour basis)
|Source: Field survey, 2003; Note: Figures in parentheses indicate
|| Employment patterns by length of education (hour basis by
|Source: Field survey, 2003; Note: Figures in parentheses indicate
|| Employment patterns by farm size (hour basis by week)
|Source: Field survey, 2003; Note: Figures in parentheses indicate
|| Family labor supply and utilization (man-days/year)
|Source: Field Survey, 2003; Note: Figures in parentheses indicate
|| Family labor usage by agricultural enterprise (man-days/year)
|Source: Field Survey, 2003
Likewise, female members of landless, small and medium farmers spent less time
on off-farm activities, whereas those of large farmers devoted maximum time
|| Annual income (Taka) and agricultural labor productivity
by the authors, 2003; Note: Figures in parentheses indicate t-values;
*** Significant at 1 % level
* Significant at 10 % level|
Supply and Utilization of Family Labor
Table 6 depicts that, with the exception of landless farmers,
other categories of integrated farm families possessed more family labor than
conventional farm families. Landless, marginal and small farmers utilized more
amount of family labor for farm activities compared to medium and large farmers
and unemployment (total labor supply minus total labor utilization) decreased
with the increases in farm size in both integrated and conventional farm families.
On the other hand, disguised unemployment4) estimated on the basis
of farmers calculations was higher in conventional farming than integrated
farming. In conclusion, farmers practicing integrated farming had less family
labor surplus compared to farmers practicing conventional farming.
Family Labor Usage by Agricultural Enterprises
Labor usage largely depends on the number of enterprises produced (Table
7). In comparison to labor requirements for conventional farming, the total
labor used for integrated farming was higher, which implies that conventional
farming underutilized the existing labor supply from families. It can be deduced
that integrated farming led not only to a use of underutilized family labor,
but also to providing job opportunities for others during peak seasons. Apparently,
the participation of females in both types of farming was lower compared to
males because women were primarily involved in domestic household activities.
The present findings suggest that integrated farming makes a positive contribution to the overall levels of employment for all categories of farmers. This evens out employment patterns of farm family labor across peak and through seasons throughout the year. An overwhelming majority of all farmers reported that employment opportunities in integrated farming increased over the past years due to the adoption of labor-intensive enterprises.
Annual Income and Labor Productivity
Annual income was derived by the total earnings of family members from both
farm and off-farm activities during a year. Table 8 indicates
that income from integrated farming was higher for all categories of farmers
compared to conventional farming. Labor productivity5), a major determinant
of farm income, was higher in integrated farming compared to conventional farming.
The differences in total income earned between integrated farming and conventional
farming were statistically significant. The share of non-agricultural enterprises
to total household income markedly decreased with the increase in farm size
in integrated farming, whereas it differed for medium and large farmers in conventional
farming. The income rise seems to be quite encouraging for landless, marginal
and small farmers in integrated farming.
Significance of Integrated Farming
Estimated values of the coefficients and related statistics of the multiple
regression model of farm households for different types of farming are presented
For overall farming:
For integrated farming:
For conventional farming:
Standard errors are in parentheses
***, ** and * indicate level of significance at 1, 5 and 10%, respectively.
The results revealed that the coefficient of the dummy was positive and statistically significant at the one percent level, implying that the change in farming type towards integrated farming will contribute positively to annual household income in overall farming. The number of enterprises was found to be the most significant factor in integrated farming, which meant that an increase in the one percent of the number of enterprises, keeping other factors constant, would lead to an increase in annual household income by 0.42%. On the other hand, working hours per week on off-farm activities by males had a significant effect at the one percent level in conventional farming. These results were reasonably influential for farm households income generations, which suggest that the change in farming type towards integrated farming through the increase in the number of enterprises and working hours per week on off-farm activities by males, are the potential of integrated and conventional farming, respectively, as a possible pathway to remove the poverty in rural Bangladesh.
Discussion and Implications of the Results
This study looked at the employment behavior not only for operators and
spouses as mentioned in the earlier studies, but also for all working-age household
members that added some new ingredients. It was observed that the incidence
of off-farm time spent was lower among farm households than non-farm households.
It was evident that males and females aged 15-54 years spent about two-fifths
and four-fifths of their working time on farm activities, respectively. It was
found that the participation of earning members in off-farm jobs was positively
correlated with education levels which supports the findings of Appleton et
al. (2002). It revealed that landless and marginal farm households spent
about three-fifths of their working time on farm activities. It also identified
the level of overt and disguised unemployment in farm families.
Farmers in integrated farming clearly earned more income compared to farmers in conventional farming. Integrated farming enhanced labor demand throughout the year. Farmers practicing this type of farming had a reduced amount of excess labor compared to conventional farming, which is different from the study of Varma and Kumar (1996). They noticed that rural non-farm has been contributing a rising share of employment. Janvry de and Sadoulet (2001) found that education plays a major role in accessing better-remunerated nonagricultural employment, but our study revealed that the key determinant of success in integrated farming is the number of enterprises, whereas it is the working hours per week on off-farm activities by males in conventional farming.
The farm families in integrated farming had the possibility for gainful employment throughout the year and thereby ensured good income and better standards of living. The implication of integrated farming revolved around better utilization of time, resources and family laborers in farm households. Therefore, it can be generalized that even farmers without land or capital can be involved in integrated farming with homestead, cattle, poultry and other non-farm enterprises if government or non-government organizations offer logistic support, such as credit amenities on easy terms and condition. Suitable agricultural technologies are, therefore, required to be developed for landless, marginal and small farmers for which integrated farming is proved better than conventional or specialized farming.
Policy intervention to generalize integrated farming is justified on a number of grounds. First, expansion of integrated farming promotes more equitable growth in income by providing employment to unskilled workers and other vulnerable groups. Second, by enhancing job opportunities in rural areas, integrated farming will stop the large scale migration from rural areas to cities in some extent. Third and the most important argument, integrated farming disproportionately benefit the rural women. This type of study that looks into the patterns of employment and income generation basing on farm size, farming type and gender structure has not been performed in the previously.
This study pointed up that farmers in integrated farming increase their income by practicing multiple agricultural enterprises compared to farmers in conventional farming. Less external input-based enterprises should be developed and incorporated into integrated farming, which enhance farm households income and increase labor demands throughout the year. On the other hand, non-farm avenues should be increased to solve the problems of overt and disguised unemployment of conventional farm families. Therefore, policies should be directed towards providing incentives to households for participating in integrated farming, as well as increasing their capacity to take advantage of such opportunities. However, this would have to be verified by further empirical study.
Obviously, such an employment opportunity through integrated farming helps to improve the economic conditions of rural people, especially for the landless, marginal and small farmers, who are around 80% of the total farm households in Bangladesh. Even though spreading labor, re-utilizing resources and the possibility of minimizing both economic and biological risks are the advantageous points of integrated farming, it enforces farmers attention to disperse to many enterprises which are often obstructed due to the lack of farmers skills and management. Considering the above facts, not all farmers follow exactly the same methods, as they differ in their modes, habits, preferences and production practices.
||Sixty-five percent of the sampled farmers practiced integrated
farming, i.e., multiple crops, cattle, poultry and fish, along with off-farm
activities, where the interdependence of resources among different enterprises
||Thirty-five percent of the sampled farmers practiced conventional farming,
i.e., only rice monocropping and a small extent of homestead vegetables
along with off-farm activities, where no resource interdependence was existed.
Off-farm activities covered trading, service/remittances, rickshaw pulling,
handicrafts and wage earning.
||The regression equation of dependency ratio is DR= 3.81 + 0.43 FM*** -
2.45 WP***, where FM and WP stand for family members and number of working
persons, respectively. R2= 0.93, *** indicates the level of significance
at one percent.
||Disguised unemployment means that even with unchanged techniques of agriculture,
a large part of the engaged population could be removed without reducing
||Labor productivity was derived dividing the total income by the total
number of labor days (family and hired).