Schemes to double farmers’ income

The flagship schemes of the Central Government announced three years back to have the income of farmers doubled by the year 2022 appear to have either not travelled to this end in Jammu and Kashmir or the response from the concerned officials, economic and agricultural experts in the State, is mired in procedural delays.
The need to address Agrarian problems and farmers’ distress are central to the issue of how agricultural activities proved a profitable venture for the farmers in the light of whether their incomes steadily rose year by year as was true of other sectors , not only organised but even the unorganised sector. Low and highly fluctuating farm incomes at micro as well as macro levels were proving highly detrimental to the prospects of farm investments and the farming itself. A rough estimate puts it that per day, hundreds of small and marginal farmers were either leaving core farming or using or leasing their land for activities other than farming. In other words, within a few years we could witness a peculiar type of crisis plaguing the agricultural sector .
It has been found that the conventional measures ostensibly to “help” farmers like hiking Minimum Support Price or those politically hyped “loan waiver” schemes have proved only a very limited short term measure worth the name of treating the farm distress. The most important economic “therapy” among others, is to see how money incomes of farmers rose progressively, if not as fast, as in other sectors of the economy contributing towards building annual GDP. The Government, for the first time, has felt the pulse of the agrarian distress rightly and has stressed upon taking such measures which would enhance the farm incomes by as much as doubling the same, by the year 2022.
Certain pertinent questions are required to be answered as what is to be doubled, is it output, value added, or net income earned by the farmers. Whether real incomes are to be doubled or that on nominal levels and whether incomes from only net agricultural activities are deemed to be incomes or those earnings which farmers earn from sources other than farming were also to be included as agricultural income. By any account, if the base year 2015-16 is considered for the purpose, then by the year 2022-23 , to ensure farmers’ income to get doubled , there must be an annual growth rate above 9 to 9.5 percent.
Not going into the technicalities of the entire scheme, however, ten schemes were started in the year 2015 by the Prime Minister for Agriculture, Horticulture and allied sectors with a promising objective of addressing the very cause of farm distress and to strive for a target of doubling of farm incomes by 2022. It is, however, disappointing to see that these schemes have not seen the light of the day in Jammu and Kashmir State so far. Is it that the state has already reached those objectives of 2022, and farming community having been experiencing regular increase in money incomes on annual basis ? Could it be explained, otherwise as to why like other states, Jammu and Kashmir State too should have received two money instalments from the centre but the authorities have not shown any keen interest in submitting even the projects to the Union Government for that, as under the schemes, 100 percent funding are decided to be given for public projects while 50 percent for private projects for farmers’ welfare schemes .
We are constrained to point out that the concerned authorities in the State Government are not used to take interest in innovative and developmental issues that require a bit of their putting in some more toil and time in formulating projects, proposals, monitoring and appraising outputs. A “Chalta Hai” syndrome has set in, unfortunately in this vital issue too, which requires to be addressed on priority. The importance of agriculture and the need to better the lot of the farmers should be freed from the cobwebs of mere politicking and empty rhetoric.