Agri Business

We’re on track to doubling farmers’ income: Dalwai

KV Kurmanath New Delhi | Updated on February 28, 2020

Ashok Dalwai, Chairman, Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income, releasing the first edition of the BusinessLine Handbook on Indian Agriculture 2020, along with Raghavan Srinivasan, Editor, BusinessLine, at the BusinessLine Agri Summit, in New Delhi, on Thursday   -  Kamal Narang

Paradigm shift needed, says chief of Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income

The ambitious plan of the Modi government to double farmers’ income by 2022 is on track. “What I can tell you at this point is that we are on the right track on achieving the target,” said Ashok Dalwai, Chairman of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income.

Dalwai said only a paradigm shift will alleviate farmers’ condition, the bulk of whom are small and marginal farmers. “As long as we rely on the traditional methods, we won’t get there,” he said.

Talking on `Doubling Farmers’ Income – The progress So Far’ at the inaugural session of the two-day BusinessLine Agri Summit here on Thursday, Dalwai said all the key stakeholders are now talking in one voice on the importance of increasing farmers’ income.

Dalwai said the average annual income of a farm household was ₹98,000 in 2015-16, which has been taken as the base year. Several initiatives are on to achieve the target with the government initiating several measures to liberalise agriculture.

“While the Indian economy was liberalised in the 1990s, the agriculture sector is yet to see the benefits of liberalisation. Though there were a few measures earlier, they were not enough.”

“About 10,000 Farmers Producers Organisations and 500 FPOs in fisheries are being promoted. A Model Land Lease Act, 2016, Model APLMC (Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee ) Act, 2017, Model Contract Farming and Services Act, 2018 have been brought in. Besides, key divisions of agriculture and allied ministries are being re-organised.”

Link to non-food sector

The effort to link agriculture to the non-food sector was also key to improving the incomes of farmers. “We need to move from production-centricity to income-centricity,” he said.

The focus is on poorly endowed agri regions. As part of this strategy, efforts were on to complete 99 irrigation projects, covering 7.86 million hectares. While attempting to drought-proof 151 districts, the government has promoted organic farming in 2.5 million hectares, covering two lakh farmers.

Dalwai said minimum support priceswere not enough to help farmers get a better price. India should look to freeze imports of edible oils at current levels by 2022 by improving local production, supported by procurement, he said, listing out measures to increase procurement of different crops such as pulses and millets.

He said the government was targeting to double milk processing capacity to 108 million tonnes by 2025 and achieving a production of 20 million tonnes in fisheries.

Dalwai said budgetary allocations to the agri sector have gone up. But he felt that public investments alone would not help in developing the sector. “Private sector investments need to go up,” he said.

To help small and marginal farmers, the government had launched PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) through which over 8.52 crore farmers received an aggregate ₹62,469 crore. Under this scheme farmers are given ₹6,000 in three instalments every year. He said it was important to transfer real prices on their produce by improving marketing efficiencies, agri-logistics, processing; kisan rail for seamless transport of perishables.

Farmers need choice

Delivering the welcome address, BusinessLine Editor Raghavan Srinivasan said though the agriculture sector contributes only 15-20 per cent to GDP, it offers livelihood to over 50 per cent of the population. “Farmers need to have choice to sell at the market of his choice, competition to let him discover price. The sector needs robust reporting on issues that confront it, generation of data and analysis to find solutions.”

He said a set of recommendations based on the deliberations at the two-day event will be prepared and submitted to the Union government.

The event was sponsored by Nafed, Godrej Agrovet, Bayer, IFFCO, NSE, NCDEX and other partners.

Published on February 27, 2020

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