The government might ask the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) to assess farmers’ income once every five years, instead of the current practice of every 10 years.
This is part of the stated objective of doubling farmers’ income by 2021-22. A senior official said the Centre is aiming at the real income of farmers, adjusted for inflation. The base year would be the 2016-17 financial year, ending next month
The earlier such NSSO study was in 2012-13. This showed the nominal (not adjusted for inflation) income of farmers usually doubles every six years. It pegged the income at Rs 6,426 a month in 2012-13 as against Rs 2,115 a month in 2002-03, annual increase of 11.7 per cent
For real incomes of farmers’ to double by 2021-22, agriculture and allied activities need to grow at a much faster rate than the current average
The official clarified that when the government talked of doubling agriculture income, it does not mean only from the crop sector but the gamut of economic activities in which farmers are engaged, including masonry, during their off-season. “We (mean) joining a whole lot of economic activities and processes like providing a proper market for agricultural commodities, proper utilisation of fallow land, horticulture and so on,” the official explained
He said Gross Domestic Product data on agriculture and allied activity also gives a fair idea of farmer income and could be used to track the rise or change. The sector’s size was Rs 16.7 lakh crore in 2016-17, according to advance estimates from the Central Statistics Office
To achieve all this, the Centre has constituted a committee under the chairmanship of an additional secretary in the ministry of agriculture. It will determine the growth rate needed to double farmers’ or agricultural labourers’ income in five years. “We are working on various aspects and will come out with a full-fledged strategy to accomplish the objective,” the official added. He said sub-groups were working on issues like ways to improve the cold chain network, crop productivity, how to expand horticulture, other crops, animal husbandry, etc
“The report, which can be expected in the next few months, will have implementable strategies on all aspects of agriculture, which together will double farmers’ income,” he added.