The challenges of doubling Indian farmers’ incomes in India


As India marks 50 years of the Green Revolution this year, the Indian farmers are still facing crisis


  • Farming is the most important enterprise in India and farmers are an integral part of our country.
  • To address the agrarian crisis and farmer’s unrest across the country, the government needs to take steps to secure farmer’s income.

Statistics related to farmers income in India:

  • The average monthly income of the Indian farm household was estimated to be about R 6,426 by the Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households in its NSS 70th
  • This included net receipts from cultivation, farming of animals, non-farm business and income from wages.
  • During the same period, the average monthly consumption expenditure per agricultural household was Rs 6223.
  • Farmers are mostly dependent on loans and the NSSO survey revealed that half of the farm households were neck-deep in debt.
  • As per the Agriculture Census 2010-11, 67.10% of India’s total farmers are marginal farmers (below 1 h.a.) followed by small farmers (1-2 h.a.) at 17.91%. Indian agriculture is dominant by marginal farmers who have small holdings, raising productivity of this group is most important if income of this group need to be double.

Ways to improve the income of farmers:

  • MSP and procurement is one of the ways to improve farmer’s income.
  • There is need to improve productivity.
  • For any real increase in income, farmers require higher returns for their produce
  • The marketable surplus from agriculture has to be enhanced.
  • Need to look at making a value addition to biomass.
  • There is need to devise ways to lower the cost of production and reduce the risks involved in agriculture such as pets, pathogens and weeds.
  • Addressing the ecological challenge requires more technology while the economics requires more public policy interventions.
  • Professor M.S. Swaminathan, founder of the M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation noted that it was high time that the recommendations of the National Commission on Farmers to provide the minimum price of the total cost of production plus 50% are implemented.

Impact of low farmers’ income:

Low income of farmers results into large incidence of farmers committing suicide all over the country.

What need to be done to address farmer’s suicide?

  • There is need to analyse the cause of farmer suicides in Indi
  • Some serious thoughts need to be develop to reduce the cost of farm production
  • Paying sufficient compensation in case of crop failure
  • Provide awareness and agricultural education to farmers
  • One of the first projects was initiated in Vidarbha to rescue children and give them education
  • After the concept of green revolution, the new concept of the Evergreen Revolution came up. This will increase farm productivity but without ecological harm.
  • There is need to declare fertile zones capable of sustaining two or three crops as Special Agricultural Zones, and provide unique facilities to farmers to ensure food security
  • Soil health managers should be appointed to monitor and ameliorate the soil conditions in degraded zones and rectify defects like salinity, alkalinity, water logging etc
  • The idea of more crops per drops has been successfully implemented in Israel. India need to adopt that practices here also
  • Post-harvesting technologies like threshing, storage etc will have to give greater attention
  • There is need to adopt genetic modification technology to improve yields of food crops
  • There is need to develop efficient regulatory mechanism for GM in India
  • The organic farming need to be encouraged. Even genetic resistance to pests and disease can help organic farmers
  • The food security act must be implemented properly to address the situation
  • India should also enlarge the food basked to include nutria-millets.

Why farmers’ income is low in India?

  • In China, farms are owned by the government, and farmers are mere contractors. But in India, land is owned by the people
  • All policies are today is related to corporate powers.
  • The Green Revolution of 1967-68 have resolved the food crisis in the short run, but the heavy use of pesticides and high-yielding varieties of paddy have resulted in environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity
  • Climate change is one of the major problem
  • Both less rainfall and a higher mean temperature affect farming adversely
  • Presently country is witnessing drought, excess rainfall, sea-level rise
  • The problem of economic viability of farming is one of the rising input prices such as for fertilsers, pesticides, and seeds and stagnating output prices as MSP is not rising
  • Erratic rainfall and drought are the most important factors affecting farmers
  • The farmer sells his produce for a fixed MSP, but when he tries to buy the same from the market, has has to sale out a higher price for it.

Steps to increase farmers’ income:

  • There is need to set up mulit-disciplinary monsoon management centre in each drought-affected district, to provide timely information to rural families on the methods of mitigating the effects of drought
  • Animal husbandry camps could be set up to make arrangements for saving cattle and other farm animals because usually animals tend to be neglected during such crises
  • Farm loan waivers are posing a bigger burden on the government exchequer compared to what higher pay for farm produce will incur
  • India’s ranking on the Global Hunger Index has become worse over the years and country missed out on the Millennium Development Goals of halving hunger
  • Unless land titling recognizes female ownership of land for cultivation, half of India’s farmers cannot claim institutional credit
  • Agriculture will have to grow at 12 or 14% to realize such rise in farmers earning but according to World Bank data India’s agriculture growth rate stood at 1.2%
  • Crop insurance schemes is the welcome step in order to provide security to farmers
  • Creating irrigation infrastructure across the nation
  • Distributing soil health cards to farmers
  • Streamlining farm credit facilities
  • Making efforts for second green revolution in eastern India and giving special attention to allied activities.

Governments steps to increase farmers’ income:

  • Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced a slew of measures in the Union Budget 2017 to boost the agricultures sector. Higher agricultural credit, higher allocation for irrigation projects,  a crop insurance scheme and increased allocations for MGNREGA to dig farm ponds were some of the measures.
  • In case of rubber, a price stabilization fund was set up which helped farmers get better prices for their produce.
  • India’s fertiliser subsidy which has increased by around five times in the last ten years from Rs 12, 595 crore in 2001-02 to Rs 67, 971 crore in 2012-14 at current prices
  • In 2015-16, the government budgeted Rs 73,000 crore (about 0.5% of GDP) on fertiliser subsidy.
  • The Economic Survey of 2015-16 pitched for reforms to increase domestic availability via less restrictive imports and to provide benefits directly to farmers using ‘JAM’ (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar, mobile)
  • The crop insurance scheme is rightly protect farmer from the vegaries of the weather, allocations for which have been increased in the Union Budget 2017.
  • Recently, Niti Aayog urged the states to take steps, ranging from creating farmers specific agricultural markets to land ceiling reforms, needed for doubling farmers’ income by 2022.
  • Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Accelerated Irrigation Benefits, programme, Har Khet Ko Pani, and Per Drop, More Crop are some of the steps taken by government.
  • Recently, Niti Aayog came out with its “three point action agenda “. It put forward four point action plan to double the farmers income .These four point includes the following measures:

1) Remunerative prices for farmers by reforming the existing marketing structure;

2) Raising productivity;

3) Reforming agriculture land policy; and

4) Relief measures.


Government need to take long-term steps to ensure the economic viability of farming. Raising productivity, reforming land policies and solving remunerative price mess will require massive amount of public investment and political will.



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