Doubling Farmers’ Income: Sustaining the impetus
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Doubling Farmers’ Income: Sustaining the impetus

State Bank of India (SBI) in one of its recent report has also claimed that the income of the farmer has been doubled in 2021-22 from what it was in 2017-18

Post by on Saturday, July 23, 2022

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It has been more than six years now, when Hon’ble Prime Minister of the country Sh. Narendra Modi called for doubling the income of farmers by 2022; the year corresponding to the 75th year of country’s independence. In a Kissan rally on Feb. 28, 2016 at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, ‘he urged all the states to give priority to agriculture and then see the changes. The roadmap is there, you only have to implement it.’ This was a herculean task. Statistics also were not favourable. The country has predominance of marginal and small farmers having land up to 2 hectares. Another 14 per cent own less than three hectares and the holdings of such size are as good as a small and non profitable farm holding depending on the irrigation status and other factors. Only about 0.25 per cent of rural households own more than 10 ha of land and a very less 0.01 per cent own over 20 hectares.

           

In such a scenario, the Prime Minister’s clarion call for doubling farmers’ income raised eyebrows of many. The task was indeed a challenging one, but whether possible carried a big question mark. On April 13, 2016; a Doubling Farmers' Income (DFI) Committee was set up under chairmanship of Ashok Dalwai, who was at that time an additional secretary in the union ministry of agriculture. The Ashok Dalwai Committee was set up to chalk out a strategy to achieve this target of doubling farmers' incomes and set the goal to be achieved over seven years with the base year of 2015-16. It clearly stated that a growth rate of 10.4% per annum would be required to double farmers' real income by 2022-23. Even the then Minister of state for Agriculture Mr. Parshotam Rupala in his address in the upper house had admitted that going by the present growth rate of 4 per cent it is not possible to double the farmers’ income by 2022. An economist, a member of the Prime Minister Economic Advisory Council surprised many when he suggested ‘halving the no. of farmers to double farmers’ income’.

 

Although experts varied in their opinion towards the call of Hon’ble Prime Minister of the country, but one thing was crystal clear that it would require innovative strategies, different location specific diversification models, out of box solutions, reorientation of interventions both in the farm and non-farm sectors. The Dalwai Committee has identified six major sources for increasing farmers’ income, viz. improvement in crop productivity, livestock productivity, resource use efficiency or promoting savings in the cost of production, increase in cropping intensity, diversification towards high-value crops, and enhancement of the real prices received by farmers.

 

 

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also talked of a seven-point strategy to double the income of farmers in six years. The seven point strategy includes, Provision of quality seeds and nutrients based on soil health of each field, promotion of value addition through food processing, Big focus on irrigation with large budgets, with the aim of ‘per drop, more crop, Large investments in warehousing and cold chains to prevent post-harvest crop losses, Creation of a national farm market, removing distortions and e-platform across pan India, mandis through e-NAM, ensuring crop insurance to mitigate risks at affordable cost and encouraging diversification through Promotion of ancillary activities like poultry, beekeeping and fisheries.


Towards achieving the target, the government of India came up with various pro farmer and farming policies and programmes. These include Prime Minister Kisan Samman Nidhi (PMKISAN), e-National Agricultural Market (e-NAM), Prime Minister Kisan Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana, Soil Health Card (SHC). To attract and retain youths in agriculture, GoI is promoting start-up culture ecosystem in the country. Many educated youths are now coming up with innovative ideas and have successfully started many agri-entrepreneurial ventures. The Minimum Support Price MSP of many commodities was also raised.

 

The all around efforts of the government started paying dividends. This was evident from the figures presented by Hon’ble Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India Sh. Narendra Singh Tomar recently on the occasion of 94th ICAR day. While addressing the audience, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told that incomes of lakhs of farmers have been doubled in the last eight years. Hon’ble Minister also released an e-book prepared by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), documenting the success stories of 75,000 such farmers whose incomes have doubled or more than doubled in the last eight years. The overall increase in income ranged from 125.44 per cent to 271.69 per cent, majorly through horticulture and field crops in most states. Not only the incomes of lakhs of farmers have doubled, earnings of many farmers have more than doubled. As a part of Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav to celebrate 75th years of independence, the ICAR had last year decided to identify 75,000 such farmers and document their success stories. Hon’ble minister also complimented the ICAR and Krishi Vigyan Kendra's for successfully taking up this exercise.  They deserve to be congratulated.

 

According to a statement by the ICAR, the documentation of 75,000 successful farmers has been done keeping 2016-17 as the benchmark year and 2020-21 as the impact year. An increase in income was evident across all the sectors of agriculture including field crops, horticulture, livestock, fisheries and farm/non-farm enterprises. The overall increase in income ranged from 125.44 per cent in Ladakh to 271.69 per cent in Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
If we take the state/UT wise figures, farmers of Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Puducherry recorded more than 200 per cent increase in income. Most of other states recorded an overall increase in income in the range of 150-200 per cent. ICAR said that horticulture had the dominant share in total income in 14 states including J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Jharkhand, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura, Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Goa are the top three states with a share of more than 60 per cent in total income, it added. ‘Field crops, although the share in total income is declining from 2016-17 to 2020-21, it still remained as the dominant source of income in 11 States like Punjab, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and Telangana. Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Haryana are the top three states in this category,’ it said. The ICAR said that livestock continued to be a major source of total income in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland during 2016-17 as well as 2020-21. In terms of additional income generated during this period, horticulture was the major factor in 17 states.

 

State Bank of India (SBI) in one of its recent report has also claimed that the income of the farmer has been doubled in 2021-22 from what it was in 2017-18. Report claimed the increase in Minimum Support Price (MSP) as master stroke of the government. The MSP of different crops have been increased by 1.5 to 2.3 times. The Kisan Credit Card has made the farmers economically dependent. According to SBI research the farmers’ income has multiplied by 1.3 to 1.7 times and in some states growing cash crops the income of farmers has more than doubled. These include Soybean farmers in Maharashtra and Cotton farmers in Karnataka.

 

The data of 75,000 farmers released by the Hon’ble Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, GoI regarding the doubling of their income definitely have come as a great relief for the government as well as the research and extension institutes serving the farming community all across the country. It is also pertinent to mention here that in the COVID-19 forced lockdown, it was only the agriculture sector that showed a positive growth rate. The significant thing is that the income of these farmers’ has been doubled almost one year ahead of the deadline. But, this is a tip of iceberg, given the number of farmers in the country. 

 

The last agriculture census for 2015-16 placed the total operational holdings in India at 146.5 million. The PMKISAN has 110.94 million beneficiaries who got their installment of rupees 2000 in July 2021. The latest National Statistical Office’s Situation Assessment of Agricultural Households has put the agricultural households in the country at 93.09 million. It means that in the country, there are anywhere from 90 million plus to 150 million farmer households. The documentation of doubling of income of 75,000 farmers is not even one percent of the total no. of farmer households in the country.

 

Moreover Indian agriculture is dominated by marginal and small farmers who constitute about 85 percent of the total. In terms of national per capita income parameters, the majority of small farmers ‘cannot carry on with agriculture if they are not provided with other support and are not included in social safety nets. Now with the income getting doubled will they be able to survive without the crutches of safety nets. India has over 92 million small holdings or nearly 21% of the world’s small holdings of 450 million, the second largest after China.  The challenge is therefore enormous for India to ensure that small holdings are truly productive. With a year still to go for the 2022 deadline, I hope and do believe that the efforts of the government will fructify and the clarion call given by our Hon’ble Prime Minister six years back will be a reality. The need is to sustain the impetus.

 

(Dr. Parveen is a faculty at SKUAST-K; can be reached at pkumar6674@gmail.com) 

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