In the year when the nation of India celebrates its 75th anniversary of independence and enters Amrit Kaal, the government is seeking to quadruple farmer income.
It would be a good idea to go back on that dream now that we have arrived at Amrit Kaal and assess whether it has come true, and if not, how it might be accomplished.
The growth of the nation’s agricultural sector is essential to its overall development:
If farmer incomes don’t increase, the Economy as a whole can’t grow at a sustained high rate.
This is due to the fact that, after satisfying the demand of affluent urban consumers, the manufacturing sector encounters a demand restriction.
because agriculture employs the majority of people (45.5 per cent in 2021-22 as per PLFS). Focusing on agriculture is the best course of action to secure the long-term, rapid expansion of the entire economy.
Also, agriculture must ensure the security of food and nutrition for the world’s greatest population.
Nonetheless, in the current climate, it is imperative that actions be taken to preserve the planet’s essential resources, such as the soil, water, air, and biodiversity. Just here, a paradox exists. I’ll elaborate.
Concerns regarding government initiatives and programmes in the agriculture sector:
The government has taken several measures to lessen the financial burden that farmers must suffer while paying for supplies by offering programmes and subsidies like the fertiliser subsidy, which has a budget of more than Rs 2 lakh crore. As urea prices abroad reached $1,000 per metric tonne, they remained stable in India at about $70 per tonne. It’s possible that this is the lowest price ever.
The idea put out by PM Kisan to support farmer income.
Another is Prime Minister Garib Kalyan. Through the Anna Yojana programme, several small and marginal farmers receive free meals each month weighing at least 5 kg per person.
In addition, financial institutions, agricultural insurance, and irrigation all receive subsidies (drip).
Governments also generously distribute power subsidies, particularly for irrigation. Several governments provide financial support for everything from specialised recruiting companies to farm machinery.
All of this is accurate, and these subsidies will surely cost more than Rs 4 lakh crore year. But, we need to take into account how they will affect both the environment and agricultural revenue.
To find out how they affect farmer income and the environment, the CAG should audit all subsidies supplied by the federal government and individual states.
If implemented, the audit’s findings are not likely to be well welcomed. But that might encourage us to simplify these rules.
Numerous agricultural programmes are under fire, including the following:
On the one hand, input subsidies do increase farmers’ wages, but on the other hand, it’s also plausible that the government’s output trade and marketing policies have decreased farmers’ earnings.
For instance, there is a 20% export tax on rice, there are occasionally stocking restrictions on some commodities, and several commodities are taken off the futures markets. Exports of wheat are likewise not allowed.
The outcomes we predicted do not reflect a “pro-farmer mentality”. Customers genuinely gain from the strategy. The major issue with our policy framework is this.
Environmental damage is being caused by the practise of heavily subsidising inputs, particularly fertilisers and power, as well as the guaranteed and ongoing acquisition of wheat and paddy, at least in some particular states. Each one of them is pleading for an explanation.
Increasing farmer income will undoubtedly take some time. Yet, this is still feasible if production is increased using improved irrigation and seeds.
In addition to that, they must have unrestricted access to the finest markets for their produce.
Diversifying into high-value crops will also be essential, and some farmer farms, solar panels might even be planted as a third crop. One can only aspire to treble farmers’ incomes with such a dedicated and persistent endeavour. If not, the dream won’t come true.
Reorienting these assistance programmes with an eye towards environmental results is one way to move forward. To encourage their cultivation, millets, pulses, oilseeds, and much of horticulture may receive carbon credits. They use less water and fertiliser.
The government must expand the MSP’s applicability to millet crops in order to diversify the crops and boost the revenue of millet farmers.
Reforms are required for more environmentally responsible, high-value agriculture that is also diverse and diversified in terms of goods, institutions, and legislation.