By Gyan Pathak
In the first year of the plan to double farmers’ income by 2022, the growth rate in ‘agriculture, forestry, and fishing’ is estimated to sharply fall to less than half. The first advanced estimate of the national income for the year 2017-18 puts the likely growth in this sector to be 2.1 per cent in its Gross Value Added (GVA), as against the previous year’s 4.9 per cent.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO), Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, has compiled this report on the basis of information given by the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation (DAC), which said that the production of food grains during the Kharif season was 134.67 million tonnes as compared to 138.52 million tonnes in the previous year.
In the period after the announcement of the decision by the Prime Minister of doubling farmer’s income by 2022 in April this year, nothing concrete has been done. NITI Aayog, the government’s think tank, the Ministry of Agriculture, and other departments have prepared documents, slideshows, and presentations, set up several committees and held brainstorming meetings, but nothing has changed on the ground.
The Ministry of Agriculture told the parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture that it has already initiated various activities to achieve the target set by our Prime Minister. Some of the interventions were in place from the previous Kharif season, which were in addition to imparting greater efficiency and establishing greater synergy in implementing various ongoing schemes, the Department of Agriculture, Cooperation and Farmers’ Welfare (DAC&FW) said. However, the committee recommended that the department should chalk out a detailed plan and implement it on priority basis on mission mode to achieve the targeted goal by 2022. The committee had found that there was no definite strategy.
The committee was of the opinion that Indian agriculture was characterised by subsistence agriculture, overcrowding, lower return, low share GVA, fluctuating and low growth rate in GVA, etc, which needed to be tackled through a detailed plan at the national level. It had also recommended that the Union government ensure that the strategies followed by different states do not work at cross purposes.
The agriculture sector has always been suffering lack of investment despite government promises from time to time. For example, for the 12th five year plan (2012-17), the department had asked for Rs 3,23,024 crore but only 41.80 percent of this amount was approved. Out of the Rs 1,34,746 crore approved, only Rs 88,322 crore was spent till Feb. 16 this year.
Even the performance of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojna (PMKSY) is dismal. A large number of insurance claims are pending or delayed for which details were not given even to parliamentary standing committee. Information regarding increase in the coverage area of PMFBY was also not provided. Budgetary support for PMKSY was reduced at Revised Estimate stage during the last two years, and the funds are not optimally utilized.
Farmers are increasingly fed up with their activity and leaving it in favour of other sectors. It is an ominous sign. It could be prevented only by increasing the farm income. If farmer’s income is to be doubled within four years, as promised, the government will have to function in mission mode with substantially increased level of budgetary support. (IPA Service)