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Roadmap To Farmers Welfare

Generation of gainful employment for the vast population, including the teeming youth, will obviously draw major traction.

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With 48 per cent of its 1.30 billion population engaged in agriculture, India is an agricultural economy. A sector that decides the livelihood and well-being of about 0.60 billion people cannot but receive priority attention of any government.

The new government is effectively the preceding one, and by implication, the policy framework will persist and evolve. Generation of gainful employment for the vast population, including the teeming youth, will obviously draw major traction. This will warrant every economic sector including agriculture to engender as many productive jobs as possible. It is a no brainer that the developmental strategy of the new government will flow from the manifesto of the principal party, a reading of which makes it clear that agriculture will be centrally anchored in its overall economic vision. The tangible theme would be the farmers’ income and welfare. And income is a function of employment.

There is a high degree of correlation between welfare as defined by the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income and the winning party’s manifesto To begin with, there is a commitment to double the farmers’ income by 2022. The manifesto rightly aims at monetisation of the farmers’ produce; offers farmers a robust welfare package; enables risk management; negotiate structural weaknesses; and make agriculture knowledge and technology-centric. The focus is on post-harvest management and letting the farmers capture maximum value including village storages, processing, revised market architecture (Gramin Agriculture Markets or GrAMs, alternate wholesale markets  APMCs and export promotion), supported by a predictive import-export policy. The farmers are bound to benefit from greater income shares, even when the production curve remains unchanged. Though, the policy will focus on higher productivity, diversification and deficit bridging in sectors like oilseeds. The promise to make PMFBY (crop insurance) more farmer-friendly will possibly see lower premium and higher technology for quick claim settlement. The focus on micro-irrigation targeting an additional 10 million ha is also a welcome risk negotiator. The intended investment of Rs 25 lakh crore will positively impact agricultural growth. The sequel is amendments to various acts and rules and promoting ease of doing business so that private investments will crowd in.

The indicated loan of Rs 100,000 at zero per cent interest; and negotiable warehouse receipt linked post-harvest loans will not only free the farmers from the debt trap but also yield higher incomes and savings, cascading into farm investments. The structural reforms will include legalising land lease, organising 10,000 FPOs, farmer cooperatives linking perishables with city markets, contract farming etc.The emphasis on secondary agriculture will encompass solar power generation on farms, beekeeping and honey mission, as also precision agriculture linked agri-entrepreneurship. The farmers’ welfare will get wholesome with the coverage of all the farmers under PM-KISAN; and pension scheme proposing to cover all the small and marginal farmers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Dr Ashok Dalwai

The author is CEO, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA), Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India

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