The conference organized by the ministry of agriculture and farmers welfare on 19-20 February 2018 to prepare a strategy for doubling farm income by 2022 has rightly generated enormous media attention.
Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi rightly emphasized four ideas:
- reducing the cost of inputs,
- ensuring remunerative prices,
- reducing wastage at the farm level and
- creating alternative sources of income.
Agriculture lot of uncertainties:
- Agriculture is subject to a lot of uncertainties, ranging from rainfall and pest attacks to market prices.
- Even within states, there is enormous variation in agro-climatic conditions, extent of irrigation, penetration of roads, proximity to markets, and availability of credit through banking infrastructure.
- The requirements of Punjab’s agriculture may have little in common with agriculture in Maharashtra or Bihar. Therefore, the strategy for doubling farmer incomes will differ from state to state, and from one region to another even within a state.
- It is clear that doubling farmer incomes in Punjab is not only much more difficult but will also require a completely different strategy than in Bihar.
A paper by a NITI Aayog member
- Due to repeated announcements of the government’s intention to double farmer incomes by 2022, expectations have gone up everywhere, without any realistic assessment of what is possible in the short term in each state
- In March 2015, the government had set up a task force under Arvind Panagariya, which submitted its report that year itself
- Based on this report a paper was published, Raising Agricultural Productivity And Making Farming Remunerative For Farmers, in which several useful recommendations were made public.
The NITI Aayog also set up a similar task force for states and did prepare reports in which state-specific recommendations were made. Here we examine action taken on three major recommendations.
- The very first point in the paper was the wasteful use of water for irrigation.
- The task force recommended that a model land leasing law be prepared by NITI Aayog.
- Another important recommendation made by the task force was to consider price deficiency payment (PDP) to ensure that farmers receive remunerative prices.
Several useful and innovative ideas would surely have been recommended by the “Agriculture-2022: Doubling Farmers’ Incomes” conference. It would be a good idea to persuade at least a few states to put them into practice without waiting for the next conference. 2022 is not as distant as it sounds.