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AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE ON DOUBLING FARMERS INCOME

image 2018-02-25 09:47:48
AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE ON DOUBLING FARMERS INCOME

AGRICULTURE 2022 - DOUBLING FARMERS INCOME


Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare
Cabinet Minister- Radha Mohan Singh
Minister of state: Parshottam Rupala, Sudarshan Bhagat, S. S. Ahluwalia
Agriculture Secretry – S K Pattanayak
Venue- A.P.Shinde Symposium Hall, NASC Complex, Pusa, New Delhi.


Department of Agriculture, Cooperation & Farmers’ Welfare is going to organize a two-day workshop/National Conference on “Agriculture 2022- New Initiatives” during 19-20 February, 2018.

 The event will have concurrent brain storming sessions on various topics where Agro-economists, Progressive Farmers, Trade Bodies, Policy-makers and many eminent domain experts will exchange their views on selected subjects and the recommendations of each session will be presented in the concluding session of the conference before Hon’ble Prime Minister of India who attaches his deep interest in welfare of farming community and holistic development of Agriculture Sector of India.

Aim-

The main aim of the conference is to build consensus around appropriate recommendation that will help in shaping and sharpening the vision of the government on doubling farmers’ income 2022 into actionable points.

Why Double Farmer’s Income—

•    Past strategy for development of the agriculture sector in India has focused primarily on raising agricultural output and improving food security. The net result has been a 45 per cent increase in per person food production, which has made India not only food self-sufficient at aggregate level, but also a net food exporting country.
•    The strategy did not explicitly recognise the need to raise farmers' income and did not mention any direct measure to promote farmers welfare. The net result has been that farmers income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among farm households.
•    Low level of absolute income as well as large and deteriorating disparity between income of a farmer and non-agricultural worker constitute an important reason for the emergence of agrarian distress in the country during 1990s, which turned quite serious in some years.
•    The country also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of farmers suicides during 1995 to 2004 - losses from farming, shocks in farm income and low farm income are identified as the important factors for this. The low and highly fluctuating farm income is causing detrimental effect on the interest in farming and farm investments, and is also forcing more and more cultivators, particularly younger age group, to leave farming. This can cause serious adverse effect on the future of agriculture in the country.
•    It is apparent that income earned by a farmer from agriculture is crucial to address agrarian distress (Chand 2016) and promote farmers welfare. In this background, the goal set to double farmers' income by 2022-23 is central to promote farmers welfare, reduce agrarian distress and bring parity between income of farmers and those working in non-agricultural professions.

Hurdles

•    One of the main problems of Indian agriculture is the small size of land holdings.
•    Corruption in cooperatives is a well-known problem, particularly in Maharashtra. Besides, the government does not have the money to pump into co-ops.
•    Various experts have cast a pall of gloom over the claim whether it is indeed possible to double incomes by 2022-23. This is primarily because agricultural growth in the post-reform period, barring a few exceptional years, has been stagnant and has historically failed to meet the target set by the government. For example the average annual rate of growth in agriculture and allied sector during the period from (1991-92 to 2013-14) comes at 3.2% – lower than the targeted 4%.
•    Niti Aayog has suggested reforms in two areas: marketing reforms and minimum support price (MSP) reform.  It is important to see how the suggested actions will double the income of the farmers’ and to what extent the government is serious about it.
•    It must be noted here that since agriculture is a state subject, the central government cannot do much in marketing reforms and minimum support price (MSP) reform  apart from facilitating the reform process.
•    On the one side resources like water and land are limited and on the other hand land holding is getting fragmented. The problem is further compounded by rising input costs.

Sources of Growth in Farmer’s Income—

Doubling real income of farmers till 2022-23 over the base year of 2015-16, requires annual growth of 10.41 per cent in farmers income. This implies that the on-going and previously achieved rate of growth in farm income has to be sharply accelerated. Therefore, strong measures will be needed to harness all possible sources of growth in farmers' income within as well as outside agriculture sector.

The major sources of growth operating within agriculture sector are:
1.    improvement in productivity
2.    resource use efficiency or saving in cost of production
3.    increase in cropping intensity
4.    diversification towards high value crops

The sources outside agriculture include:
1.    shifting cultivators from farm to non-farm occupations, and
2.    improvement in terms of trade for farmers or real prices received by farmers.

Strategy for Improving Farmer’s Income –

The sources of growth in output and income can be put in four categories.
1.    Development initiatives including infrastructure
2.    Technology
3.    Policies and
4.    Institutional mechanisms


Roadmap and Action Plan-
The quantitative framework for doubling farmers income has identified seven sources of growth. These are:
1.    Increase in productivity of crops
2.    Increase in production of livestock
3.    Improvement in efficiency of input use (cost saving)
4.    Increase in crop intensity
5.    Diversification towards high value crops
6.    Improved price realization by farmers
7.    Shift of cultivators to non-farm jobs

Conclusion—
The low level of farmers income and year to year fluctuations in it are a major source of agrarian distress. This distress is spreading and getting severe over time impacting almost half of the population of the country that is dependent on farming for livelihood. Persistent low level of farmers income can also cause serious adverse effect on the future of agriculture in the country. To secure future of agriculture and to improve livelihood of half of India's population, adequate attention needs to be given to improve the welfare of farmers and raise agricultural income.
Doubling farmers income by 2022 is quite challenging but it is needed and is attainable. Three pronged strategy focused on (i) development initiatives, (ii) technology and (iii) policy reforms in agriculture is needed to double farmers income.

•    The Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his government has decided to double the farmers’ income by 2022 when India would celebrate 75 years of Independence
•    The goal is achievable if the farmers adopt and use modern technology in cultivation like drip irrigation as it will direct the maximum utilization of water with minimum quantity. The Prime Minister said “Water is like God, we have no right to waste it.”
•    The focus will then be on “More crop per drop”, “Hark khet ko pani” (water for every farm), “Doubling farmers’ incomes”.
•    Laying the route map to double the farmers income, the Prime Minister said “Centre has decided to double farmers’ income by 2022 by improving technology, increasing milk production, use of solar light, honey production.  
•    Increase afforestation by planting more trees along the river banks to avoid soil erosion during floods and to keep the rivers flowing eternally without getting them dry as has been done by Government of Madhya Pradesh by organizing the Narmada Yatra. This way Narmada would not go dry even after 100 years.
•    The Niti Aayog has already come out with its ‘Three Year Action Agenda’ – a plan that covers a time period up to the 2019. In its chapter on agriculture titled ‘Agriculture: Doubling Farmer’s Incomes’, the economic think-tank has put forth a  4 point action plan to double the incomes of India’s farmers.
•    The measures proposed are in the right direction if the farmers’ incomes have to be doubled. The 4 point action plan includes the following measures: 1) Remunerative prices for farmers by reforming the existing marketing structure; 2) Raising productivity; 3) Reforming agriculture land policy; and 4) Relief measures.
•    A subsidy would be provided on targeted produce in case the price falls below MSP-linked threshold. One advantage of this, as highlighted by the action plan, is that it would spread price incentives to producers in all the regions and all the crops considered important for providing price support.
•    As per the Agriculture Census 2010-11, 67.10% of India’s total farmers are marginal farmers (below 1 h.a.) followed by small farmers (1-2 h.a.) at 17.91%. Since Indian agriculture is dominated by marginal farmers who have small holdings, raising productivity is likely the single most important factor if incomes of this group are to be doubled.
•    Niti Aayog has also called for substantive investment in irrigation, seeds & fertilisers and new technology coupled with a shift into high-value commodities such as horticulture, poultry and dairying to double incomes.
•    A major portion of farm subsidies is accounted by India’s fertiliser subsidy which has increased by around five times in the last ten years from Rs 12, 595 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 67, 971 crore in 2012-14 at current prices. In 2015-16, the government budgeted Rs 73,000 crore (about 0.5% of GDP) on fertiliser subsidy. While the Niti Aayog has called for the application of soil cards for customising fertiliser use, the Economic Survey of 2015-16 pitched for reforms to increase domestic availability via less restrictive imports and to provide benefits directly to farmers using ‘JAM’ (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, mobile). 

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