Tribune News Service
New Delhi, April 2
Recent electoral victories notwithstanding, continued agrarian distress is proving to be a ticking time bomb for the BJP government at the Centre, more so when Prime Minister Narendra Modi has set the target of 2022 to double farm income.
A report on agrarian distress, prepared by NITI Aayog Member Ramesh Chand, claims more than 50 per cent of farmers would slip to below poverty line in near future if they solely depended on farm income.
Chand was tasked to prepare the report, a copy of which is with The Tribune, on the state of affairs in the farm sector and also suggest ways to double the farm income by 2022, as promised by the Prime Minister.
The worst of all in the report, Chand reveals that “real income of farmers showed a declining trend in the five-year span between 2011-12 and 2015-16”.
To arrest the declining trend and achieve the intended target of doubling income, Chand has suggested a seven-pronged approach: crop productivity, livestock value addition, improvement in resource use, crop intensity, crop diversification, better price realisation, shifting to non-farm occupation.
Chand claimed even if his seven-pronged approach was adopted and implemented in letter and spirit, it could raise income only by three quarters of the existing income in seven years and to double it, another three years would be needed. He also mentions in the report that to realise the Prime Minister’s promise, agriculture would need to grow at 10.50 per cent each year. The projection is in absolute contrast to growth of an average 0.5 per cent in 2014-16 and 4.3 per cent in 2016-17.
Thus, the Modi government’s aim to double farm income in seven years by 2022-23 appears to be a herculean task. “The tempo of growth in farm income got a big setback after 2011-12. The output of crop sector witnessed small decline (0.29 per cent) in 2012-13, which was followed by below average monsoon in next two years. Consequently, growth rate in value added in agriculture decelerated to 1.6 per cent from 2011-12 to 2015-16, which led to a decline in the real income of farmers,” the report said.
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