(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Doubling Farmers Income [FEB-2018]

(The Gist of Kurukshetra) Doubling Farmers Income


Doubling Farmers Income

Agriculture is very important for Indian economy and society both. It is the means of livelihood for half of the population, if we also count in the ancillary activities. Apart from meeting the food security requirements of the country as well as providing additional produce for export, it also provides most of the raw material for the industry sectors. According to the Socio- Economics and Caste Census, SECC in 2011,
out of 24.39 crore households in the country, 17.9 million households live in villages and are mostly dependent on agriculture.

Shri Narendra Modi is the first Prime Minister of the country whose economic policy has the farmer at its core. Until now, our economic policies revolved around agriculture and industrial production rather than the farmer as the focal point. Prime Minister has declared the goal of doubling the farmer’s income instead of increasing the agriculture production. With the increase in farmer’s income, the society around him will be benefited first. The announcement of the Prime Minister should not be considered merely as a government announcement. Prime minister is the head of the country and his declaration should be taken as a national resolution. In fulfilling this resolution, not only should our entire government system be mobilized but all the citizens of the country including the farmers should be made partners. Prime Minister has made this announcement quite some time back but it does not seem that we have been able to make any headway in respect of farmer-centric agriculture.

This is the second time after independence when there is going to be a big transformation in the system in respect to agriculture and farmers. Looking at the current scenario of agriculture in India, 69% of the farmer families have less land than one hectare land. 17% of the families have land between one to two hectares. According to the National Sample Survey Organization (NSSO), 36 percent of the farmers are landless. Economic Survey of 2015-16 states that 48.9 percent of the total workforce population is contributing only 17 percent to GDP (Gross Domestic Product ). And in the current financial year, the growth rate of agriculture and allied sectors is expected at 2.1 percent.

The Prime Minister’s goal of doubling the income of farmers by 2022 is commendable and full of challenges but not impossible. Before taking steps towards the goal of doubling the income, it is essential to know the income of the farmer in the current fiscal 2016-17, as according to the available NSSO data for 2012-13, the average monthly income of the country’s farmer is Rs. 6426. In the resolution of doubling the earnings, it also needs to be clarified whether we want to double the amount of the minimum income or actual income.

The life of the Indian farmer is full of uncertainties and plight. The crop which remains intact after the onslaughts of rising costs, bad weather, pest attacks, is his biggest hope. But the transmission from the fields to markets is also not easy. Country to the expectations of farmers, the basic structure of moneylenders, middlemen and government procurement centres is exploitative. It serves the interest of middlemen rather than farmers and consumers. The Central Government had sent a proposal to the State Governments in 2003 to implements the Model APMC Act. Its objective was to do away with the regulations and control of mandis, assist in direct purchasing, eliminate the nexus of local traders in the market, and infuse competition and investment in agriculture markets.

The Ministry issued a Model Marketing Act on 24t h April, 2017, which was named “Agricultural Produce and Livestock Marketing(Facilitation and Promotion Act 2017)”. After adoption by the states, this Act will provide diverse marketing channels and the APMC’s monopoly. Its purpose is to increase competition and provide options to farmers so that they can take advantage of the competitive price of their produce. In such a situation, the reform in the agricultural marketing system would provide increased purchase price to the farmers. Along with reforming the domestic marketing system, there is a need to set right the import-export policy as the changes brought about in policies after liberalization have neglected the interests of the farmers of the country. Therefore, during the harvesting of the crops, such agriculture commodities should not be imported and it should also be ensured that they should not be imported at the prices below minimum support price declared by the government. Apart from this, agriculture exports should also be promoted so that the price of agriculture commodities will not go down in the local markets and farmers will continue to get remunerative prices.

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As regards crop productivity, by 2030, the population of india is estimated to touch 150 crore mark and the requirement of food grains will reach 35 crore tonnes. Therefore, it is necessary to increase yield per hectare. As compared to the year 1950, the crop productivity in India has improved significantly. But in comparison to the international level, it is found that there is widespread possibility of increasing the
average yield of major crops in the country.

The government gives subsidies on fertilizers, irrigation and electricity directly to increase crop yields.Banks and other institutions help farmers by giving subsidy indirectly in the form of cheap loans or reduced interest rates. The subsidy of fertilizers alone has increased five times in the last ten years. It has increased from Rs 12,995 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 67,971 crore in 2014. The government has made a provision of Rs 73,000 crore as subsidy in the budget for 2015-16 which is 0.5 per cent of the total GDP. Subsidy to the tune of about Rs 15,000 crore is also given on the interest of the banks.

Apart from agriculture, the importance of animal husbandry can be understood from the fact that in the gross domestic agriculture production, the contribution of animal husbandry is 28-30% and in the average monthly income of farmers, it is 11.9% which is commendable. There are 86 percent small and marginal farmers in the country who hold thirty per cent of the total land. Seventy per cent of the farmers are involved in animal husbandry businesses who possess around 80 per cent of the total livestock. It is noticeable that for landless farmers, who do not have resources to grow crops and raise big cattle, small animals such as sheep, goats, pigs and poultry etc.are the means of livelihood and dealing with poverty. If people show more interest in animal husbandry and take advantage of the positive initiative of the government, their income will definitely increase. Recently the Central Government has launched schemes viz. “Rashtriya Gokul Mission” and “Kamdhenu Prajanan Kendras” for the conservation and development of the indigenous breeds of cow. This will lead to the development of indigenous breeds and production of high quality A2 milk in view of climate change.

The rising populations in the country and fields getting smaller have become a curse for the farming families. As per the Indian agriculture situation, for livelihood of a farming family less than two hectare land and more than ten hectare land to maintain optimum productivity per hectare land to considered to be non-profitable whereas today, almost 70 per cent of the farmland is less than one hectare in the country.
Therefore, it is almost important to increase the size of the farmland and reduce the burden of the population dependent on the farm to boost the income of farmers and make their livelihood better. Therefore, the NITI Aayog has prepared the “Model Agriculture Land Leasing Act 2016”. The Government believes that it will lead to lessen the burden of population on farming, increase productivity, promote
equality and help in reducing poverty. Due to the land lease system getting legalized, the fear among landowners of losing ownership on the leased land will be over. The lessee will also be able to get easily all the facilities available for farming including the government’s crop loan, crop insurance. The workforce involved in farming would get the opportunity to shift the non-agricultural sector. National Skill Development Council has also set a target of decreasing the number of the workforce in agriculture from 57% to 38% by 2022 i.e. about 20% people will have to find employment avenues in non-agricultural sector.

Conventional farming system would reduce the subsidy given in the name of fertilizers and food security and thus reduce the fiscal deficit. this will further reduce the expenditure on health and control inflation too. Besides government efforts, the farmers have to set up, in addition to biological or high quality production, value addition activities and marketing network to reform their economic condition. I know many farmers, farmers' productivity confederations, co-operatives and non-government organizations who, according to their economic status, geographical conditions have introduced innovations in farming methods, created value additions and set up local distribution mechanism to sell and purchase directly with rural and urban consumers. Jaivir Singh (MSc Agriculture) of Sehra Village(Bulandshahar, Uttar Pradesh) is a well-educated and enlightened farmer. He has reduced the cost of farming to half. He has increased the fertility of soil and reduced the consumption of water to half. He has adopted crop planning i.e. which crop is to be shown in what acreage of land. He has also opted for inter cropping i.e. mixed crop farming which, along with the production of many crops, has also reduced the risk of farming. He has also increased the yield per hectare to one and a half times more as compared to the normal yield. Another outstanding fact is that he also provides training to the farmers around them.

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