Doubling Farmers Income (DFI)

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    In News

    • Recently, the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation [National Statistical Office (NSO)] conducted a Situation Assessment Survey (SAS) of Agricultural Households survey and said that the average monthly incomes of agricultural households have risen.

    Background

    • Inter-Ministerial Committee: Government had constituted an Inter-Ministerial Committee in 2016 to examine issues relating to Doubling of Farmers Income (DFI) and recommend strategies to achieve the same.
    • The DFI strategy recommends recognition of agriculture as a value-led enterprise, identifying 7 major sources of income growth.
      • Improvement in crop productivity
      • Improvement in livestock productivity
      • Resource use efficiency or savings in the cost of production
      • Increase in the cropping intensity
      • Diversification towards high value crops
      • Improvement in real prices received by farmers
      • Shift of surplus manpower from farm to non-farm occupations.

    Need to Double Farmers’ Income

    • Past strategy for the development of the agriculture sector in India has focused primarily on raising agricultural output and improving food security.
    • The net result has been that farmers’ income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among farm households.
    • Low level of absolute income, as well as the large disparity between the income of a farmer and non-agricultural worker, constitute an important reason for the emergence of agrarian distress in the country during the 1990s.
      • This distress is spreading and getting severe over time impacting almost half of the population of the country that is dependent on farming for livelihood.
    • The country also witnessed a sharp increase in the number of farmer suicides from 1995 to 2004, due to  losses from farming.
    • The low and highly fluctuating farm income is causing a detrimental effect on the interest in farming and farm investments and is also forcing more and more cultivators, particularly younger age groups, to leave farming.
    • It is apparent that income earned by a farmer from agriculture is crucial to address agrarian distress and promote farmers welfare.
    • Therefore, the goal set to double farmers’ income by 2022-23 is central to promote farmers welfare, reduce agrarian distress and bring parity between the income of farmers and those working in non-agricultural professions.

    Major challenges

    • Legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP): The most important demand of farmers is the legal guarantee of Minimum Support Price (MSP) on which a committee was promised but has not materialised until now.     
    • Lack of budgetary allocations: there was no attempt in the Budget either to address the immediate demands like MSP or to offer other solutions to the farmers’ underlying concerns about lack of remunerative prices, unfair markets and rising input costs.
      • The share of Agriculture and Allied Activities in the total Budget was reduced to 3.8%, whereas it was 4.3% in the Budget Estimate of 2021-22 and 3.9% in the Revised Estimate.
    • Fertiliser subsidy: Many key allocations have been reduced and the fertiliser subsidy has seen a steep drop of 25% from the previous year’s revised estimate.
    • Bogus Agriculture Infrastructure Fund: The one lakh crore Agriculture Infrastructure Fund was announced in 2020 as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat package. However, after nearly two years a minimal amount has been disbursed as loans and projects.
    • State’s pulling out from Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana: The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) allocation has been reduced marginally to Rs 15,500 crore, but more importantly the scheme is floundering as evident from the number of major states which have pulled out.
    • No data protection laws: With no data protection laws in place, and with land record digitisation already resulting in lakhs of small and marginal farmers getting dispossessed from lands, the push to accelerate digitisation and high tech services in public–private partnership mode is not in the interests of farmers.

    Steps taken by the Government to improve farmer’s income

    • Farmer Producer Organisations: Formation and promotion of 10,000 FPOs along with necessary financial support under AtmaNirbhar Package (Agriculture)
    • Agri Infrastructure Fund: Special attention for creation of infrastructure through Agri Infrastructure Fund (AIF) with a size of Rs. 100,000 crore
    • PM-KISAN: Supplementary income transfers under PM-KISAN
    • Crop insurance under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY)
    • Better access to irrigation under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)
    • Increase in Minimum Support Price (MSPs) for all Kharif& Rabi crops ensuring a minimum of 50 percent of profit margin on the cost of production
    • PM-AASHA: New procurement policy under PM-AASHA in addition to FCI operations
    • Kisan Credit Cards (KCC) offering production loan to even dairy & fishery farmers besides agricultural crops
    • National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture (NMSA), which aims to evolve and implement strategies to make Indian agriculture more resilient to the changing climate.
    • Digital technology: Focus on application of digital technology at all stages of the agricultural value chain.
    • Adoption of drone technologies in agriculture which has a potential to revolutionise Indian agriculture.
    • Benefits accruing under Bee-Keeping, Rashtriya Gokul Mission, Blue Revolution, Interest Subvention Scheme, agroforestry, restructured bamboo mission, implementation of new generation watershed guidelines, etc.

    Way forward/ Suggestions

    • It is more important to look beyond paddy and wheat procurement to examine the implementation of MSP.
    • Strengthen the existing MSP schemes: The best way for the government to make its case would have been to expand and strengthen the existing MSP schemes and show that it can ensure that the largest majority of farmers get the MSP in all the 23 crops under the support price regime, without requiring a law.
    • The new emphasis on natural and organic farming is to be welcomed in view of the widespread degradation of soil, water and biodiversity, and the changing climate.
    • A rational and evidence-based approach is required rather than a dogmatic one.
    • The emphasis is on high-tech agriculture and digitisation as the way forward.

    Source: PIB