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  India   All India  19 Jun 2018  Doubling farmers’ income in India: What’s the way ahead?

Doubling farmers’ income in India: What’s the way ahead?

Published : Jun 19, 2018, 1:41 am IST
Updated : Jun 19, 2018, 1:41 am IST

As per one of the projections, only 50% of the requirement for irrigation can be met by the year 2030 .

A farmer ploughs his field to plant paddy in Nagaon, Assam. (Photo: PTI)
 A farmer ploughs his field to plant paddy in Nagaon, Assam. (Photo: PTI)

The policy of doubling farmers income by FY 2022-23 is primarily about acquiring abilities of doubling farmers income in a remarkable short period and maintaining that strides for fairly long period of time . A few however argue that accomplishment of the goal is subject to achieving more than five times the average agricultural growth rate witnessed in the last two decades.

To dispel the notion, a relook at the basics of farming practices is required. In a standard farming practices , almost 50% of the cost of production is the labour component. Of late, Rural labour market is showing an irreversible trend of rise in wage rate and shortage of labour . On the other hand , use of diverse agricultural machineries, perhaps on the line of agricultural machinery cooperatives in China , can reduce cost of production and increase farm productivity each by 20-30% .

Issue of soil health card for more than 90% of farm holdings in India no doubt is going to be a game changer with regard to judicious use of inputs . Likewise , Integrated Pest Management(IPM) can be promoted for pest control . It is basically a combination of traditional, biological and chemical method of pest control . Across the world Integrated Pest Management is getting popularized among farmers as it is 50% cheaper than chemical fertilizer, ensures higher productivity by 10-15 % and leaves every less harmful residue. Moreover, shifting to IPM can get at least 10-15% higher selling price for farmers if agricultural products grown through IPM is certified as such.

Despite significant creation of seed related infrastructure across the country since passing of Seed Act ,1966 , only 30% of seeds used in cultivation is marketed one. Hence, the space available for use of high quality seeds in the country is self evident . Simultaneously , in the wake of growing monopoly of agriculture knowledge , it is imperative to acquire capacity of international scale in the area of seed and planting material . Global seed market not long ago was dominated by famously known as “ Big Six”. Now , the number is only four .

As per one of the projections, only 50% of the requirement for irrigation can be met by the year 2030 . The reason is rate of depletion of water resources is three times more than the rate of creation of new irrigation capacities .That is why significance is being given to water conservation works in scheme like Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana . A large number of water conservation assets are also being created under various schemes like MGNREGA . Since inception more than Rs 1.12 lakh cr has been spent on irrigation related works under MGNREGA. Simultaneous focus on proper management of water assets may act as a tipping point. Many studies have shown that practice of participatory irrigation management(PIM ) i.e. community management of water assets led to substantial increase of area under irrigation and reduction in water use.

The target for distribution of agricultural credit in FY 2018-19 is Rs 11 lakh cr or Rs 11 trillion (the Union Budget 2018-19) . No doubt there is substantial improvement in overall access to credit .

Hence the remaining task is to remove bottlenecks areas where access to agricultural credit is still constrained.

In specific areas of horticulture , pisciculture ,poultry farming etc. reward is very high consummate with risk involved. Compared with traditional farming, pisciculture is three times more rewarding. Similarly there is lot of market potential in the cultivation of aromatic and herbal plants .

Cooperatives can play a significant role in this regard with regard to specialized training and handholding, provision of high tech storage and packaging facilities etc. This requires having a separate autonomous body at the national level under Ministry of Agriculture to administer and promote cooperative activities in diverse and specialised fields and to address issue of governance deficit in many cooperative societies.

Physical connectivity of rural agricultural markets is no longer an issue since all unconnected habitations is likely to be connected by all weather roads under Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yojana by March 2019. But provision of digital connectivity to all agricultural markets remains to be accomplished.

Under e-Nam scheme buyers and sellers are already being provided electronic platform of transacting business. In the next stage, to protect farmers from price fluctuations and to provide them fair value for traded commodities , some of the mandis or agriculture market place , with appropriate logistics and connectivity, may be developed as smart mandis. Smart mandis can not only provide real time price related information but it can also project prices of major commodities for the next season in a dynamic manner by analyzing data pertaining to showing trend , climate and the like.

It will be a great boon for farmers who are often ruined on account of excess production as they follow past trend and not the real time trend.

This will also help consumers as it will lead to stabilization of prices of agricultural commodities.

Smart mandis may be equipped with agri logistics facilities with provisions like door step pick up and delivery of commodities, proper storage facilities for commodities along with time to time price alerts, technical and management assistance center etc. Some of the agriculture market which are traditional hubs in this regard such as Nashik, Nagpur, Ratnagiri, etc can be developed as smart mandis . Some of the them may be developed to meet specific requirement of international market.

For example China is developing 100,000 dairies to supply milk to Russia. Initially such centers may need investment from the Government . Subsequently , smart mandis can be attractive for even private investment or Public Private Partnership since it can grow at a compound rate of minimum 13-15% per annum .

Thus , policy of doubling farmers income by year 2022 have potential to make farming as attractive occupation for the both present and future generation to come.

The writer is the controller of accounts in the ministry of finance. The views expressed are personal.

Tags: cooperatives act, rural labour market, increase farm productivity