New Delhi: In a bid to draw up a plan on ways to double farmer incomes by 2022, the agriculture ministry is holding a series of consultations, seeking suggestions from stakeholders ranging from seed and fertilizer associations to research organizations and farmers.
The wide ranging consultations, in which the ministry is hearing the views of around 75 organizations, individuals and government departments, began on 14 March and will end this week. The aim is to devise a strategy to realize Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goal of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.
Major farmers’ unions like the Bharatiya Kisan Union, the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and the Shetkari Sanghatana in Maharashtra are not among those invited by the ministry.
According to a background note prepared by the agriculture ministry and distributed among stakeholders, the Centre’s goal is to double farmers’ income between 2016-17 and 2022. The government will seek to double real and not nominal incomes by taking into account expected inflation with 2016-17 as the base year, it said. Further, the goal is to raise incomes from both agricultural and non-farm sources.
According to the note, a copy of which was reviewed by Mint, the strategy is to focus on “achieving higher growth rate on a consistent basis year after year” as growth in real incomes was sluggish in the past. While nominal farm incomes rose 20 times between 1983-84 and 2011-12, real farm income rose just threefold, the agriculture ministry said.
The broad approach will be to raise net farm incomes per unit by reducing costs of cultivation, increasing yields and ensuring higher market returns on the produce, the note said.
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“The government gave us a patient hearing and officials chairing the session were open to criticism,” said a representative of a farmers’ organization who did not want to be named.
“Nearly all issues from prices, market access to credit, insurance and compensation for crop loss were discussed. We were told that a policy document will be ready in a couple of months,” the person quoted above said.
As per the ministry’s note, yield improvements, a greater share of high-value commercial crops and higher levels of food processing, in addition to policy and regulatory reforms, will be integral to raising incomes. The overall strategy will be to transform farming “from a production-based activity into an income- and job-generating enterprise,” it said, adding, as the largest private sector enterprise in the country, agriculture has to attract the youth who are risk takers and can deploy new technology and professional management.