Need to address key challenges in the agricultural sector to double farmers' incomes: Economic study

NEW DELHI: To achieve the goal of doubling farmers' incomes by 2022, Friday said there is an urgent need to address some of the basic challenges such as credit, insurance coverage and irrigation facilities in agriculture and their Allied sectors

It is also necessary to reallocate labor resources to other sectors, to give greater attention to the exploration of world markets for agricultural products, in addition to complementing farmers' efforts with direct income support, he said.

The realization of the objective of doubling farmers' incomes requires addressing some of the basic challenges of agriculture and the allied sector, according to the table presented in Parliament.

Issues such as investment in agriculture, water conservation, improved yields through better agricultural practices, market access, institutional credit availability, increased links between agricultural and non-agricultural sectors need attention. urgent said.

According to the Survey, the coverage of irrigation facilities must be extended while ensuring an effective water conservation mechanism.

An inclusive approach to the provision of agricultural credit must be taken to address the problem of asymmetry in its regional distribution, he said.

As the proportion of small and marginal properties is significantly large, land reform measures such as the liberation of land markets can help farmers improve their income.

The survey also said that allied sectors, such as animal husbandry, the dairy industry and fisheries, should receive a boost to provide a guaranteed secondary source of employment and income, especially for small and marginal farmers.

Since the livestock sector has grown at a compound annual growth rate of almost 8 percent over the past five years, it assumes an important role in income, employment and nutritional security, he said.

Livestock income has become an important secondary source of income for millions of rural families and has taken an important role in achieving the objective of doubling farmers' incomes, the survey added.

Noting that farm mechanization helps Indian agriculture to become subsistence farming commercial, the Survey said that it is also necessary to address the problem of reduced farm mechanization in India, which is only about 40% compared with about 60% in China and about 75 percent in Brazil.

As a well-developed food processing sector guarantees a better return for farmers and promotes employment, the Survey said that more attention needs to be given to the sector because of its important role in reducing post-harvest losses and creating an additional market for exits from the farm.

The food processing sector is growing at an average annual growth rate of more than 5 percent in the last six years ended 2017-18, he added.

While government measures are in place to improve productivity and commercialization, farmers' efforts must be complemented by better direct income coverage or investment support.

More attention needs to be paid to the exploration of world markets for agricultural products to provide an additional market source for the surplus of agricultural products that India currently has, the survey said.

It is also necessary to reallocate labor resources to other sectors. Although the structural transformations involved a fall in the participation of the agricultural sector and a greater participation in jobs in the service sector, more needs to be done to create manufacturing jobs to absorb the large number of workers, he said.

In stating that agriculture and its allied sectors remain an important sector, the Survey said that it is due to its continued role in employment, income and, most importantly, in national food security.

Its contribution to national income has gradually decreased from 18.2% in 2014-15 to 16.5% in 2019-20, reflecting the development process and the structural transformation taking place in the economy.