Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his target to double the Indian farmers’ income by 2022 was achievable if a good strategy, well-designed programmes and adequate resources backed the effort.
He told an economic forum that a focus on farmers’ income than on agriculture output would also have strong benefits for other sectors of the economy.
“With a good strategy, well-designed programmes, adequate resources and good governance in implementation, this target is achievable. And, as a large share of our population depends on agriculture, a doubling of farmers’ incomes will have strong benefits for other sectors of the economy,” he said.
Incomes would rise with the combination of growth in production, more efficient input use, reduction in post-harvest losses, higher value addition, reduced marketing margins, risk mitigation and ancillary activities, the prime minister said outlining the various policies his government had introduced to help agriculture.
Nearly 60 percent of Indian live of farms, but agriculture makes up for only 18 percent of India’s gross domestic product, raising concerns over food security issues in a country with a large population.
Modi said his government had introduced a big focus on irrigation with a large increase in budgets. “We are taking a holistic approach which combines irrigation with water conservation. The aim is per drop, more crop.”
Secondly, he said, the government was focusing on provision of quality seeds and on efficiency of nutrient use. The provision of soil health cards enables accurate selection of inputs according to the requirements of each field. These will lower costs of production and increase net income.
Modi lamented the loss of a large portion of the harvest before it reaches the consumer. In perishables the loss occurs in transit. In non-perishables, it happens during storage.
“We are reducing post-harvest losses through big investments in warehousing infrastructure and cold chain. We have greatly increased the outlay for agricultural infrastructure,” he said, adding that the government was promoting value addition through food procession.
He also said that formation of a common electronic market platform across 585 regulated wholesale markets as part of efforts to create a national agricultural market and removing distortions would be helpful.
“We want to ensure that a higher share of the final price goes to the farmer, with less going to middlemen. The introduction of FDI in marketing of domestic food products in this budget is with the same objective,” he said, adding that the introduction of a new national crop insurance scheme would provide farmers protection from risks beyond their control.
“We will increase income from ancillary activities. Partly this will be through poultry, honey bees, farm ponds and fisheries. We are also encouraging farmers to use uncultivated portions of their land, especially boundaries between fields, for growing timber and placing solar cells.,” Modi said.