By Pramod Kumar Jha
New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) Amid slow pace of economic growth, it might be a challenging task for the government to achieve the target of doubling farmers’ income in the next three years, but the government says it is moving in the right direction to achieve the goal within the time-frame.
Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar while speaking in the Lok Sabha on Thursday claimed to have a roadmap for doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. Describing the data of agricultural production, he said production of foodgrain rose at 8.40 per cent annually during 2014-19, during the discussion on “Crop loss and its impact on farmers.”
Earlier this week in the same House, replying to a question, Tomar’s deputy, Minister of State for Agriculture Kailash Choudhary said his government is committed to doubling the farmers’ income within the timeframe. He said the Modi government in its first tenure nearly doubled the agriculture budget as compared to the previous UPA regime.
The agriculture budget during the UPA tenure from 2009-2014 was Rs 1.21 lakh crore whereas the Modi government increased it to Rs 2.11 lakh crore during its first tenure, said Choudhary.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had shared his vision of doubling farmers’ income for the first time while addressing a Kisan Rally at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh on February 28, 2016. Since then, the Central government has been giving more thrust to the growth of agriculture and allied sectors.
Into its second term, the Modi govt has removed the two-hectare ceiling for providing Rs 6,000 annually to farmers under PM Kisan Samman Nidhi in its first Cabinet decision aimed at doubling the farmers’ income by 2022.
In its first tenure, the government constituted a committee under Ashok Dalwai, then Additional Secretary in Agriculture Ministry, to prepare a report to achieve the goal.
IANS spoke to Ashok Dalwai, now Chief Executive Officer, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRRA), to know the progress made in achieving the goal of doubling the farmers’ income at a time when the growth rate of agriculture and the allied sectors is not encouraging.
Dalwai said, farm income growth rate is different from agriculture growth rate.
He said, “Farm income growth could be higher than the agriculture growth when we help the farmers to reduce his cost of production and facilitate better prices of his produce.”
When asked about the growth rate of farm income achieved so far in the past three years since 2016, he said, “We will get the figures when the next National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) will publish its data, which is usually done in a gap of five years. The NSSO has already started working in this direction.”
While the government is working on methods to raise productivity and reduce the cost of production, it aims to ensure that farmers get the remunerative prices of their produce, said Dalwai. The government is focusing more on marketing — the MSP for crops has been increased and procurement of crops is being done at a large scale, besides, eNAM (Electronic-National Agriculture Market) has been strengthened. Gramin Agriculture Markets, too, will be set up so that farmers get better returns, he added.
In the Dalwai Committee report, the average farmer household’s income has been targeted to rise from Rs 96,703 in 2015-16 (current prices) to Rs 2,42,998 in 2022-23, clocking an increase of two-and-a-half times. The corresponding values for farm income are Rs 58,246 and Rs 1,63,456 respectively in the report.
This implies that farm income in total household income would increase from 60.2 per cent in 2015-16 to 70 per cent in 2022-23 with variations across states. In real terms, the income from farming would also double by 2022-23, rising at constant prices from Rs 58,246 to Rs 1,16,165 over the period, said the Dalwai committee report.
The report also suggests that for doubling the farmers’ income by 2022, non-farm activities, too, have to register an equal growth rate of 10.4 per cent per annum.