The Prime Minister declared at a farmer rally in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, in February 2016 that the government intended to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.
Why is it necessary to double farmers’ incomes?
Since there has long been a significant income gap between farmers and non-agricultural workers, this, together with the nation’s low absolute income level, has contributed to the formation of agrarian distress, especially in the late 1990s.
It has gotten worse recently and now affects about half of the nation’s inhabitants, who depend on farming for a living.
The interest in farming and farm investments is being negatively impacted by the low and highly variable agricultural income.
Also, it is causing an increasing number of farmers to give up farming, particularly those who are younger.
In the past, increasing agricultural output and enhancing food security have been the main goals of India’s agricultural sector development strategy.
It is clear from the prevalence of poverty among farm households that this is the cause of farmers’ low income.
Throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, the frequency of farmer suicides in the country sharply increased due to poverty, natural catastrophes, and other factors.
The welfare of farmers may improve as a result of their increased revenue.
So, the objective of tripling farmers’ income by 2022–2023 is crucial to achieving income parity between farmers and those in non–agricultural professions.
Data on the earnings of farmers:
Even if the government takes a proactive approach, there are no guidelines for farmer income or other relevant matters.
NITI Aayog member (in charge of agriculture) gave benchmark estimates of farmers’ incomes and information on how to double these in a policy document published in 2017.
Estimates of cultivator earnings up to 2015–16, which served as the base year, were included in the policy paper.
Their data showed that between 2011–12 and 2015–16, actual farm revenue per farmer climbed by a meagre 0.44% annually, compared to a 7.5% increase between 2004–05 and 2011–12.
Due to the agrarian crisis, between 1999–2000 and 2004–2005, it has decreased by 0.55% year.
Cultivators’ farm revenue in 2022:
According to the most recent data, between 2016–17 and 2020–21, farmer income decreased 1.5% year, which was three times faster than the decline experienced during the agrarian crisis of 2000–2005.
If the drought year of 2015–16 is taken as the base year, income increased by 0.6% per year from 2015–16 to 2020–21.
Even if farm earnings grow at extremely high rates, it will require a miracle for them to reach the level of 2016–17, according to the data for 2021–22, which is not yet available.
Estimates of farm revenue from the Dalwai panel
The Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) of the National Statistics Office’s definition of “farmer,” which was adopted by the Dalwai panel, is more expansive (NSO).
To determine the aim of doubling farmers’ incomes, it used all of these households’ income.
This includes the labour earnings of farmer households as well as non-farm income from enterprises.
Problems with the approach:
Absence of current data because the most recent NSO farmer survey was conducted in 2018–19, and the one before that in 2012–13.
As polls are typically conducted every ten years, there is no way to predict the income of farmers in 2022 since there have been no surveys conducted after 2018–19.
Even earlier data demonstrates that between 2012–13 and 2018–19, farmer households’ income from crop production fell by 1.5% annually.
Data manipulation is a possibility because, when livestock revenue is taken into account, farmers’ incomes only increase by 0.6% year.
Based on the non-farm intake of farmer families, it shows an increase of 2.8% annually when non-farm income is added.
If another source of information on the income of agricultural households is utilised, such as the survey of rural households conducted as part of the NABARD All India Financial Inclusion Survey, then different definitions and criteria must be employed (NAFIS).
However, it uses a different definition of agricultural families and income than the SAS and only gives 2015–16 income data.
However, it discovered that between 2015–16 and 2018–19, farm households’ total annual income climbed by just 1.7%, a decrease from the 3.8% growth rate of the previous period between 2012–15 and 2015–16.
Governmental programmes to increase farmers’ incomes:
Drone technology usage in agriculture through smart agriculture has the potential to revolutionise Indian agriculture.
Numerous agricultural programmes, such as crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), supplemental income support under the PM-KISAN programme, a new procurement policy under the PM-AASHA programme in addition to FCI operations, and improved irrigation access under the PMKSY programme, etc.
10,000 Farmer Producer Organizations (FPOs) will be formed and promoted, and the AtmaNirbhar Package will provide the required financial support (Agriculture).
The National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA) aims to develop and put into practise solutions to increase the climate-resilience of Indian agriculture.
Raising the Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) for all Kharif and Rabi crops to ensure a minimum profit margin of 50% above production costs
There are many different initiatives and programmes for agri-related services, including the Bee-Keeping Mission, the Rashtriya Gokul Mission, the Blue Revolution, the Interest Subvention Plan, agroforestry, and the Restructured Bamboo Mission, among others.
It is difficult to estimate farm income robustly.
There is little chance that we can provide accurate and reliable estimates of the revenue of farmers during the past five years due to the paucity of data.
Regardless of the source or methodology, we may infer from the information at hand that farmer incomes have been declining during 2015–2016.
Even wage workers’ incomes have not increased over the past five years, and rural real wages are dropping along with farmer income.
The income of three-fourths of rural workers is declining, which is expected to exacerbate rural stress.
Although this affects people’s lives and means of subsistence, the economic situation in our country will worsen as a result of recent skyrocketing inflation and a lack of demand.
Hence, giving priority to the recovery of India’s rural economy is not only desirable but also necessary for any serious plan targeted at an economic resurrection in the future.