Doubling Farmers' Income
2nd Sep, 2020
- India today is not only self-sufficient in respect of demand for food, but is also a net exporter of agri-products occupying seventh position globally. !t is one of the top producers of cereals (wheat £ rice], pulses, fruits, vegetables, milk, meat and marine fish.
- However, economic indicators do not show equitable and egalitarian growth in income of the farmers. The human factor behind agriculture - the farmers, remained in frequent distress, despite higher productivity and production.
Need for Doubling of Income
- India has been an agriculture based economy. Though the percentage of population dependent on agriculture declined to 48 percent in 2011, from85 percent in 1951, yet if seen in terms of absolute numbers, a sizable population is still dependent on agriculture for its livelihood.
- The net result of previous strategies has been that farmers' income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among farm households.
- The NSSO data on Consumption Expenditure Survey for year 2011-12 reveals that more than one fifth of rural households, with self-employment in agriculture as their principal occupation, were having income less than the poverty line.
- 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 the 1990s.
- Climate change is beginning to challenge the farmer's ability to adopt coping and adaptation measures that are warranted. Technology fatigue is manifesting in the form ofyield plateaus. India's yield averages, for most crops, do not compare favourably at global level.
- The costs of cultivation are rising.The markets do not assure the farmer of remunerative returns on his produce.
- The low and 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.
Strategies Towards Doubling of Income
- Doubling real income of farmers till 2022-23 over the base year of 2015-16, requires annual growth of 10.41 percent in farmers' income.
- The strategies to boost income of farmers can be divided under the following heads:
- Reducing the cost of inputs
- Increasing the sale value of the crops
- Crop Diversification
- Increasing the productivity
- Sustainable agricultural intensification
- Augmenting agriculture income with allied activities
- Decreasing the per-capita dependence on agriculture
A. Reducing the Cost of Inputs in Agriculture
- The most basic strategies to double farmers' income are going to be those which decrease the cost of production. Micro-irrigation along with the nutrients application can be highly efficient and priority should be given to empower farmers with micro irrigation.
- Other than the Central Government, some State Governments have embraced micro irrigation. The Maharashtra Government has made it mandatory for all sugarcane producers to switch to drip irrigation by 2017.
- Similarly, the Tamil Nadu government is also endorsing micro irrigation through 100 percent subsidy to farmers opting for the micro-irrigation system.
- Achievement of doubling of income of farmers would also require adequate compensation for possible farm losses.
- The Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojana (PMFBY) includes comprehensive risk insurance from sowing to harvesting mainly to cover yield losses due to non-preventable risks like drought, dry spells, flood, inundation and pests.
- The government would be adopting an innovative technology, especially smart phones for capturing and uploading data directly from the farmer's field. This would help in completing the settlement process in time.
B. Increasing the Sale Value of the Crops
- Sale value of crops can be improved by shifting to high value varieties, reducing post-harvest losses, improving post-harvest management and marketing reforms
- One way to increase the sale value of the farm produce is to expand the area under High Value Crops (HVC), as it has been found that expanding HVC by one hectare at the expense of staple crops, yields an additional "gross returns up to Rs. 1,01,608 per hectare”.
- There is also a need for strengthening of Organic Food Programmein India to contribute to the global 60 billion USdollar market for organic products.Many parts of India such as North-Eastern Region, Himachal and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, which are organic by default, must be made organic by process for the producers to get advantage of market value.
- The government launched the electronic National Agriculture Market (e-NAM), mainly to bring the existing Agriculture Produce Market Committees on a common nationwide platform to facilitate trading in agricultural commodities.
- The e-NAM will empower farmers of each corner of the country. It is also to be ensured that all farmers get to know about the selling of their commodities through e-NAM system and what are the benefits of using it.
C. Crop Diversification
- Private and public investments should be prioritised to facilitate crop diversification towards horticulture, infrastructure development viz. storage houses, greenhouses and micro-irrigation, and promotion of new culture for fruits and vegetables. Diversification of agriculture in the First Green Revolution areas such as Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh seems need of the hour.
- Upward push in MSP in favour of proposed diversification crops will be a practical option to achieve this objective.
- The staple crops (cereals, pulses, oilseeds) occupy 77 percent of the total or gross cropped area (GSA) but contribute only 41 percent of total output of the crop sector.
- The agroforestry system is recognised as an important integrated farming practice to fulfil the necessity of food, fodder, fuelwood, fibre and timber along with aesthetic and environmental services.
- This system is supported by the government due to its role in improvement in soil-health, nutrient cycling, carbon sequestration and better economic return to existing cropping systems with less use of natural resources.
- The fast growing exotic tree speciesproved as economically viable option for crop diversification in the trans-gangetic plains region.
D. Increasing the Productivity of Agriculture
- Average per hectare rice production in India is 2.6 tonne compared to 7 tonne in China,5.1tonne in Indonesia and 5.6 tonne in Vietnam.
- Even within the country,there is huge yield variation of different crops among the states.
- Variation in productivity, with the same level of irrigation and low income level of the farmers is due to the lower levels of advance technology being adopted and lack of modernisation of farms.
- Income can be increased by adopting conservation agriculture practices which facilitate in reducing the operational costs magnitudes.
- However, the availability and cost of machine is a concern and if purchased it needs some years to offset the investment.
- The use of high-yielding variety and hybrid seeds are very essential for a successful cropproduction.
- Seed Replacement Rate (SRR) is directly proportional to productivity of all crops. Therefore, higher the Seed Replacement Ratio, higher will be the production as well as productivity.
- Overall huge 85 percent area is sown with farm saved seeds. Without achieving the optimal seed replacement ratio, any efforts to get expected yields will be futile.
E. Sustainable Agricultural Intensification
- Crop intensification may be achieved by using shorter season varieties, improving on-farm water and soil fertility management and introducing rotation crops.
- Boost to yields can be given by improving the efficiency of water and nutrient use.Water productivity gains will need to be underpinned by sustainable soil fertility.
- Tailoring agronomic practices (e.g. weed management, planting methods) to local conditions will further enhance water and nutrient efficiency.
- Evidence is growing about the scope of agronomic technologies like precision farming to raiseproductionandincomeoffarmerssubstantially.
- Similarly, modern machinery such as laser land leveller, precision seeder and planter, and practices like SRI (System of Rice Intensification), direct seeded rice, zero tillage, raised bed plantation and ridge plantation allow technically highly efficient farming.
F. Augmenting Agriculture Income with Allied Activities
- Promotion of integrated farming system approach aims at synergic blending of crops, horticulture, dairy, fisheries, poultry etc. to provide regular income, decrease cultivation cost through multiple use of resources and provide muchneeded resilience for predicted climate change scenario.
- Under National Agricultural Innovation Project (NAIP), supported by the World Bank and implemented by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (2006-14), an effort was made to enhance income of the rural people through technology led innovation systems.
- Some of these systems such as Integrated rice-fish-poultry farming system, Integrated rice-fish farming model, Integrated pig/ poultry fish-vegetable farming system model and others have demonstrated significant increase in the income of the test farmer groups.
- Recently, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved setting up of Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) worth Rs. 15,000 crore under the Aatmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan.
- AHIDF would facilitate much needed incentivisation of investments in establishment of such infrastructure for dairy and meat processingand value addition infrastructure and establishment of animal feed plants in the private sector.
G. Decreasing the Per-capita Dependence on Agriculture Income
- Income of farmers can be improved substantially by shifting extra workforce away from agriculture.
- According to NSSO, workforce in agriculture sector in rural areas declined by about 34 million between 2004-05 and 2011-12.
- Despite the trendof movement ofworkforce away from agriculture,the employment diversification towards non-farm sector is slow due to requirement of skill and certain education level.
- The government's recent initiative on Skill Development can play a big role in improving skills of farming community, which can fetch them better employment opportunities in non-farm sectors.
- It has been found that agrarian distress increased when growth infarm income was low and it went down when farmers' income experienced high growth rate. Thus, the level of farm income is crucial to address agrarian distress.
- The Government's development initiatives, impetus on technology integration besides policies andreforms in the agriculture sector, are the right steps in this direction.