Blueprint on doubling farm income ready

Tags: News
The government has almost finalised the report on measures to double farmers’ income by 2022 and is likely to put it on the website next week for public feedback.

According to sources, integrated farming, which is one of thrust areas recommended by a committee under Ashok Dalwai, special secretary in the Union agriculture ministry, will be the key to successful implementation of the programme.

The government has expanded the definition of farmers by including fisheries, poultry, dairy and other allied sectors as it becomes difficult to double the income of farmers who grow only agricultural crops. The panel has decided to broadbase the definition of farmers and to encourage those growing only agriculture crops to venture into allied activities, sources said.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley had announced in his budget speech in 2016 the government’s resolve to double the income of farmers in five years. Accordingly, an inter-ministerial panel was constituted under the chairmanship of Dalwai to recommend measures to achieve the target. During the course, the target was changed to six years from five years.

The panel found a lot of difficulty, as there was no database available to derive what is the current income of farmers in agriculture and allied sectors. The panel may take an average current income of farmers engaged in all activities in agriculture and allied sectors. It will be real income factoring inflation.

Food policy expert Ashok Gulati had said that to double farmer incomes in six years in real terms is next to impossible as Indian agriculture needs to grow at a compound 12 per cent every year to achieve this.

There is wide gap in farmers’ income in irrigated and non-irrigated areas as well as among sectors like fisheries, dairy, poultry, etc. The income of those farmers who are currently at disadvantage due to lack of necessary farm infrastructure would grow at much faster pace than those who have the facilities.

For a farmer who earns Rs 2,000 a month, the scope to raise his income is very high compared to one grower having an earning of Rs 30,000. So, the government has been focussing on small and marginal farmers.

The panel is of the opinion that farmers should be engaged in activities like food processing, cold storage, etc. apart from horticulture, to supplement their earnings.

Prime minister Narendra Modi in March last year had announced a seven-point strategy to double the income of farmers, which the committee discussed in details and prepared the report based on those inputs. It included higher allocation for irrigation, quality seeds and nutrients, prevention of post-harvest losses, promoting food processing, one national market, crop insurance and ancillary activities like poultry, beekeeping and fisheries.

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