Spotlight Sep 6: Discussion on Initiatives for Doubling the Farmer’s Income.
- GS-2: Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.
- GS-3: Agriculture and allied activities
Initiatives for Doubling the Farmer’s Income
Context: Huge distress has hit the Agricultural sector due to environmental impacts, policy paralysis, debt trap etc. has led to large amount of farmer suicides across the country particularly in the Deccan plateau.
- Past strategy for development of the agriculture sector in India has focused primarily on raising agricultural output and improving food security.
- The net result has been a 45 per cent increase in per person food production, which has made India not only food self-sufficient at aggregate level, but also a net food exporting country.
- The strategy did not explicitly recognise the need to raise farmers’ income and did not mention any direct measure to promote farmers welfare. The net result has been that farmers income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among farm households.
- Indian agriculture suffers from low productivity, low quality awareness and rising imports.
- Majority of Farmers are marginal: 70% of India’s farmers have small and marginal land holdings, operating below one hectare.
- Unrewarding livelihood: On an average, smaller holdings lose money as their household costs are higher than their earnings. According to the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO), the average income of farmers owning up to two hectares is Rs 5,240 a month
- Subsistence Farming: The smallest farms are afloat since they don’t pay for labour, relying entirely on the family, and they consume much of what is produced.
- Irregular Income: Farming is a seasonal affair, not a full-time job
Doubling Farmer’s Income by 2022
The vision of doubling agricultural income can’t be achieved only through farm activities. It requires an integrated approach that clubs livestock rearing, other non-farm activities and the cooperative model into the income package of farmers.
Doubling farmers’ incomes include three themes:
A. Enabling digital financing and insurance payouts by facilitating consolidated information, credit scoring models, and yield forecasting models using satellite and weather data. Example: Digital applications are making crop insurance system faster and more accurate.
- Central government launched a Kisan pilot programme in 2015 to see if satellite and drone-based imaging and other geospatial technology could produce timely and accurate crop-yield data. Study is also being conducted to evaluate a remote sensing based index for index-based insurance
- Pilot study carried out in rice and cotton fields in four districts during the kharif season in Karnataka, Maharashtra, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. It was also conducted during the 2015–16 rabi season in eight districts in the same states to assess crop yields of rice, wheat, and sorghum
B. Introducing precision agriculture using data analytics, with an integrated agricultural data platform across all existing and new data sources (such as the 158.7 million Soil Health Cards dispatched). Based on pilots, this initiative could raise farm productivity by 15 to 20 percent. Example: Real-time agricultural data can help to increase yields and decrease costs.
- Soil Health Card: Ministry of Agriculture launched soil health card in 2015, the scheme tests soil samples to encourage judicious use of inputs such as fertilizer
- mKisan: Ministry of Agriculture launched mKisan in 2013 to increase the information available to farmers on crucial aspects of farming such as weather & soil health
- mKRISHI: mKRISHI is a technology platform for Indian farmers. Tata Consultancy Services designed it to enable farmers in remote areas to access real-time agricultural information, best practices, and market and weather information
- MyAgriGuru (Mahindra): The app connects experts and farmers and enables exchange of ideas and information to create an empowering agriculture ecosystem in the country
C. Implementing online agricultural marketplaceslinked to a unified, nationwide market with a set of institutional market facilitators and common assaying and grading standards. Such e-marketplaces could cover 40 to 60 percent of agricultural produce sold in India, leading to 15 percent farmers’ price gains, as demonstrated by pilots.
Together, these changes could add $50 billion to $70 billion of economic value in 2025.
Example: Technology is bringing transparency to India’s agricultural markets
- eNam: Ministry of Agriculture in 2015 launched eNam, the electronic National Agriculture Market, to connect the 7,000 APMC mandis across India to promote transparency in agricultural markets
- Buyer Seller Platform: Ministry of Agriculture launched Buyer Seller platform / mKisan for farmers to receive local buyer prices over SMS. It connects farmers with buyers (farmer producer organisations, exporters, traders, and processors).
The Way Forward
- Most of the development initiatives and policies for agriculture are implemented by the States. States invest much more than the outlay by the Centre on many development activities, like irrigation. Progress of various reforms related to market and land lease are also State subjects. Therefore, it is essential to mobilise States and UTs to own and achieve the goal of doubling farmers’ income.
- Technology adoption has proved that it has potential to improve agricultural efficiency by improving farmers knowledge, access to credit, and agriculture output in many ways. Hence, technology adoption can help the farm product to reach from “local to global” market in an efficient way.
- To convert the image of Indian “Peasant farmer” in to an “Entrepreneur farmer”, we need to address – low usage of farm equipments, mechanise the industry and bridge the lack of literacy and digital literacy.
Can you answer these questions now?
- How feasible is the target to achieve the motive of doubling farmer’s income by 2022? Discuss.
- What are the steps that the government has taken in the last few years towards this objective?