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Why Doubling Farmers' Income Still A Challenge?

Farmers' incomes have increased to a certain extent over the last few years, and the government has on its part undertaken schemes to address its goal of doubling farmers' incomes

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In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the priority of his government is to double the income of farmers by 2022. Apart from Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah 2021 also mentioned that the three central agriculture legislation would guarantee significant increases in the income of farmers. 

However, later on, the Centre withdrew all three laws after a massive protest against the controversial laws. Now, after five years, the income of farmers has only "marginally increased," far from "doubling."

Akhilesh Jain, Co-founder, Agrotech India said, "There is unawareness among farmers of government schemes launched in the favour of farmers such as PMFBY, PM Krishi Sichai Yojna, PM Krishi Vikas Yojna, Soil Health Card etc."

Jain said that the unavailability of the digitised farmer’s database which includes, ancillary data on crop type, losses, resources, income etc.

"Farmers' incomes have increased to a certain extent over the last few years and the government has on its part undertaken schemes to address their goal of doubling farmers' incomes like PM KUSUM, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY), Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY), etc," said Devendra Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, Ecozen Solutions. 

Gupta added that the key to reaching this goal is increasing access and awareness of technology amongst farmers.

In 2022, the Centre increased the MSP for all required Kharif, Rabi, and other commercial crops with a return of at least 50 per cent above all India's weighted average cost of production from 2018–19. From Rs 1940 per quintal in January 2022 to Rs 2040 per quintal in December 2022, the MSP for paddy (common) has increased. 

From Rs 2015 per quintal in January 2022 to Rs 2125 per quintal in December 2022, the MSP for wheat too increased, giving more benefit to the farmers.

While talking about measures that can increase the income of farmers, Jain said, "The government need to significantly modify the agricultural policies. A major rise in public investment, an increase in subsidy support to farmers, more credit supply, and a rise in minimum support price to 50 per cent above the cost of production could at least raise farm incomes substantially even if not double them."

He further said that increase in cropping intensity, i.e., the ratio of net area sown to the total cropped area - by raising short-duration crops after the main Kharif and after the main Rabi season so that agricultural land does not remain unused for half of the productive period.

According to the Fourth Advance Estimates, food grain output climbed from 308.65 million tonnes in January 2022 to 315.72 million tonnes in December 2022. According to third advanced projections, the production of horticulture increased from 331.05 million MT in 2020–21 to 342.33 million MT in 2021–22. This is Indian horticulture's highest-ever production.

Jain called for the promotion and the cultivation of high-value crops like vegetables, spices, fruits, oilseeds etc. rather than cereal crops, which has more market value. The government can provide good subsidies for the cultivation of such crops. Area- agricultural output has to be increased through access to irrigation and technological advancement.

Anil Kumar SG, Founder and CEO, Samunnati said, "Any intervention at any node of the value chain ultimately benefits the farmers. But the real impact is in ensuring that the farmers get a higher value realisation and profit. Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) are one of the most impactful means to achieve the goal. Hence, it is paramount to ensure they survive, thrive, and work efficiently to become profitable business enterprises."

As per Kumar, it is easier said than done and requires a holistic understanding of the entire value chain, the stakeholders in the larger ecosystem and an “inside-out” perspective of technologies and innovations to support the smallholders, in particular.

Kumar further said that policy and regulatory frameworks at the national and state levels will play a critical role in ensuring access to finance, market connect and other support such as training for the farmer collectives. 

Meanwhile, experts noted that the path to making India's agriculture more resilient, sustainable and inclusive is through fostering synergistic partnerships among government, public and private sector players.

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