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Adivasis in Several Odisha, Jharkhand Districts Earn Less Than Rs 1 Lakh Annually

A survey shows that the annual daily wages of an Adivasi household are around Rs 31,000.
Adivasi women

Representational use only.

Tribals in several districts of Odisha and Jharkhand earn less than Rs 1 lakh annually with the monthly income of households in, at least, eight districts in both states less than Rs 6,000, according to a survey.

The 2021 survey, done by PRADAN, an NGO working with and for tribal communities for the past four decades, and the Ford Foundation covered 5,000 households focussed on ‘tribal-dominated’ administrative blocks under the Intensive Tribal Development Program (ITDP). The basic sampling unit was a village with 20 households.

The report covered every aspect of livelihood and explained in detail the differences between Adivasi and non-Adivasi villages and the difference between Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTGs) and tribals. 


The Adivasis in both Jharkhand and Odisha depend on daily wages, which contribute majorly to the annual income of households, especially in female-headed households.

Around 30% of the annual income of households in Jharkhand comes from daily wages with the rest from farming, forest produce, pensions, etc. Wages are not only the major contributor to their incomes but also a regular source of money. 

Even in wages, there is a disparity between Adivasi and non-Adivasi households. The annual wages of an Adivasi household are around Rs 31,000 as against Rs 42,085 to that of a non-Adivasi household—a monthly difference of around Rs 1,000.

The survey showed how forest produce has a negligible contribution to annual income. Income from forest produce is more in non-Adivasi households.

Dietary Diversity

Dietary diversity (nutrient intake and quality of food consumed) reveals shocking numbers about the acceptable diet and food security of households. In the case of Adivasis, not even half of the total people surveyed consume completely nutritious food.

Nearly, 24% of Adivasi women are severely food insecure, meaning they have a very low nutrient intake, and around 43% of women are on the borderline of dietary diversity. A huge chunk of the Adivasi population is moderately and mildly food insecure, meaning their food content is not as good.

Regarding the overall average, the numbers are starkly different in Adivasi and non-Adivasi households. The average family size in both states is five. While only 47% of Adivasis in Jharkhand are completely food secure, the number goes up to 54% in non-Adivasi groups. Since Adivasis have lower incomes, food security is less.

In the mildly and moderately insecure category, there is not much difference between Adivasi and non-Adivasi groups while in the severely deprived, there is a significant difference. The data although did not collect the body mass index, it still shows the larger picture of malnutrition in the two states.

Landlessness and Access to Resources  

The Adivasi and non-Adivasi households were classified into different classes per their landholding. Expectedly, 95% of Adivasi households are landless, marginal or small farmers. The proportion of farmers having 10 acres is 0.7% while those owning between 5-10 acres is 2.4% in Jharkhand and 3.6% in Odisha.

In Odisha, 14% of Adivasi respondents, 28% of non-Adivasi respondents and 47% of PVTG respondents are landless. In Jharkhand, these proportions were 12% and 30% for Adivasi and non-Adivasi respondents, respectively. In Odisha, the number of landless households among PVTG is significant with several Adivasis also owning no land.

All the respondents in all categories are either landless or marginal landholders (less than one hectare) or small landholders (less than two hectares). Considering that these lands are in undulating hilly and mountainous terrains and have thin soil layers, the situation of the households is bad.

In general, farm income appears to rise with landholding. However, among non-Adivasi households in Jharkhand, the farm income of small landholders was lower than that of the marginal landholders. According to the survey, this could be due to the inferior quality of their land and the lack of tilling due to migration for work.

The survey found that households situated less than one kilometre from forests had uniform income percentiles in Jharkhand. More than 20% of households inside or very close to forests belonged to the lowest income group in both the states and about 19% to the highest income group.

On the other hand, households located five kilometres or more from forests were in the higher income percentile groups. Only 17% in Jharkhand and 14% in Odisha were in the smallest income percentile group while the proportion of households with the highest income rose to 14.5% and 22.1% in the two states, respectively. It showed that people staying away from forests can possibly access greater economic opportunities and earn higher incomes.

The survey also showed the difference in literacy levels. Landless households have a significantly higher proportion of illiterate members. In both Adivasi and non-Adivasi households, the “no schooling” proportion was quite large. The number of illiterate people in all categories is generally higher in Odisha, especially among Adivasi households, than in Jharkhand.

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