PM Modi’s Challenges Are Many In Keeping His Promise To Farmers

PM Modi Farmer Agricultural Narendra Modi
While weak growth in farm wages have cooled food inflation, they have hurt farmers already reeling from prolonged drought. (Reuters Photo)
Highlights
  • PM Modi made his commitment to the farmers at a February rally in Odisha.
  • PM has launched a seven-pronged strategy to achieve the aim.
  • Farm incomes have increased threefold over the past 30 years.

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to need a big rise in economic growth and a run of good weather to have a chance of fulfilling his promise to double farmers’ incomes by 2022.

He may also have to allow farm gate prices to rise fast, agricultural and economic experts said, jeopardising a key policy of his first two years in office: keeping inflation in check to appeal to India’s swelling middle class.

The 65-year-old made his bold commitment at a February rally in Odisha, hoping to shore up support among 263 million farmers who will have a major say in his party’s fate in upcoming state elections.

“This is a government that thinks about farmers,” Mr Modi told the rally.

To achieve this, the PM has launched a seven-pronged strategy including expanding irrigation, crop insurance, smarter marketing and incentives for farmers to grow new crops.

Some in the crowd that day were less than impressed.

“It’s a political gimmick,” said smallholder Durbadala Pradhan, 54, who grows 6-1/2 acres of paddy in a rain fed area of Bargarh district.” All governments give such alluring assurances, but have they made any difference?

“If you want to survive, you have to find your own ways,” he said, as he ploughed a plot in front of his mud-brick home.

Mr Pradhan’s last rice crop was rejected for sale because it was of poor quality. To get by, he keeps three oxen and two milch cows, and sells hand-rolled cigarettes and snacks from his small shop. Experts also call PM Modi’s farm promise far-fetched.

To come true, output would, other things being equal, have to grow at an annual 15 percent. That compares with an average of below 2 percent over the past four years.

Under PM Modi, the guaranteed price the government pays for common grades of rice has risen at an annual rate of 3.7 percent. That’s less than inflation and below half the 9 percent rate under the Congress government that preceded him.

“The tools available to the government to ensure that the promise doesn’t descend into a pipe dream are limited,” said Ashok Gulati, a leading farm economist, who said most of PM Modi’s farm initiatives had been tried before with little success.

Officials at the Agricultural and Finance Ministries and the Prime Minister’s Office, when asked whether the promise to double farm incomes was backed by solid assumptions and costing, declined to comment on the record.

Farm incomes have increased threefold over the past 30 years, thanks to double-digit rises in wages and hikes in state procurement prices during the Congress party’s decade-long rule.

That policy led to unprecedented annual growth of 7.3 percent in per-cultivator income from farming, but also heralded high food inflation.

While weak growth in farm wages and procurement prices have cooled food inflation, they have hurt farmers already reeling from prolonged drought.

“The situation is deteriorating day by day,” said farmer Ishwar Kathar, whose brother committed suicide last year after failing to repay a crop loan.

Land reforms and freeing up food prices triggered rapid gains in farm incomes in China in the 1970s and 1980s. Yet these are not steps the government is taking.

That leaves the option of ramping up support prices for rice and wheat. That would require a policy U-turn and invite criticism that PM Modi was offering the same policy answers as his opponents.

“The economics of farming are determined by public policy, not by technology alone,” said veteran expert MS Swaminathan, known as the father of India’s ‘green’ revolution. “You have to have a pricing policy that stimulates production.”

© Thomson Reuters 2016

4 COMMENTS

  1. The Secret of Israel’s Water Miracle is water conservation and innovative farming. I visited Israel Iand could see how they bring out ground water from 3000 Feet and store in large reservoirs with covering to arrest water evaporation.I have had been involved in improving the living conditions of farmers and innovative agricultural practices.

    NNOVATIVE USED TUBE MULCHING EFFICIENT VEGETABLE GROWING TO CONSERVE WATER

    It is well known much water is wasted as evaporation in open farming besides water seepage and weed growth. I have found a simple,innovative, cost effective and reliable system to overcome this.
    Used and discarded Car tube is taken and 2 inches diameter holes (4) are made each opposite one(like +) and filled with natural organic soil(in my case I filled it with soil mixed with biogas sludge). At the bottom the small screw(air Pin) will help to drain out excess water. Vegetables like tomato,beans,Bhendi etc. and flowering plants like roses can be raised (Refer picture). In this case tofeed feriliser(natural it is mixed in water and supplied. Since nutrients are supplied right near the root they won’t go deep and spread sideways.
    One can go for bigger size farming and even hybrid plants in a big used tube of Tractors.
    Advantages:
    1,. Used car/motor cycle/ tractor tubes are available cheap
    2. Saves water by avoiding evaporation and water seepage
    3. Occupies less space
    4. The system can be made by everybody
    5. Durable and reliable
    6.No weeds
    7. Nutrients can be supplied right near the roots
    8. there is provision to take out excess water
    9. In school Gardens it can be adopted
    10. Useful on the terrace and in backyard
    11.Higher growth compared to normal method
    12.Compared to plastic mulch this rubber tube will lost longer and won’t degrade.
    Irrigation sprinklers are sprinklers providing irrigation to vegetation, or for recreation, as a cooling system, or for the control of airborne dust. The sprinkler system irrigates the field and thus it is widely used in sandy areas as it checks the wastage of water through seepage and evaporation. Sprinkler irrigation is a method of applying irrigation water which is similar to natural rainfall. Water is distributed through a system of pipes usually by pumping. It is then sprayed into the air through sprinklers so that it breaks up into small water drops which fall to the ground. The pump supply system, sprinklers and operating conditions must be designed to enable a uniform application of water.

    Drip irrigation, that saves water and fertilizer by allowing water to drip slowly to the roots of many different plants, either onto the soil surface or directly onto the root zone, through a network of valves, pipes, tubing, and emitters. It is done through narrow tubes that deliver water directly to the base of the plant.

    Combining these two methods a simple ,innovative BHAGEERATH Water irrigation system has been designed by Dr.A.Jagadeesh

    The system consists of 75 litre capacity HDP Tank with cover and on the top provided a small vent to create pressure. In the bottom a tap of ¾ inch) is provided with a tube and a shower(normally used in shower bath) is attached. The Whole set up is placed in the Centre of a garden at an elevation to create pressure.
    The plants are first sprayed with water and then at the roots as drip irrigation. The shower can be tilted.
    Advantages:
    Saves a lot of water.
    All the materials are available locally
    It can be fabricated in local Workshops
    Small gardens,vegetables Growers can adopt this method.
    Since the tank can be placed at the centre,reaching to plants is easy(less strain)
    This system costs about Rs 600.
    The investment can be recovered in a year.
    I developed Vertical Farming using Stand and Racks. These are very useful for home gardens and small vegetable growers.

    PROVIDING LOANS TO SMALL AND MEDIUM FARMERS TO USE PVC PIPES FOR IRRIGATION:
    In most of our fields small and medium farmers run water in open canal which has disadvantages:
    1. Water seepage
    2. Water Evaporation
    3. Weeds on the sides of the canals (which take away sizeable quantity of Water)
    3 We used earlier cement pipes but the coconut trees planted near the piped canal roots penetrated into the cement canal and the cement piped were broken and leaking. The solution lies in going in for PVC pipes. AQ Scheme can be chalked by the Government to give soft loans with subsidy to purchase PVC Pipes. This saves enormous quantity of water rather than INKUDU GUNTALU(Water retaining pits) in towns and Cities.

    Also there will be high fluctuation of prices of Tomatoes and Onions. When the prices are low “Onion Powder” and “Tomato Paste” can be made and preserved in bottles and made commercially available. This way the price rise can be checked.

    Also in Paddy transplantation(especially women) get the fungus between hand and leg fingers because of constant stay in mud and water. In abroad there are Cap to beat sunshine, gum boots and rubber hand gloves. Similarly they can be supplied to the Farm Women at subsidised rate.

    Modiji,Farmer is the backbone of the Nation. Ours is an agrarian Economy. No Nation which neglected agriculture and farmers survived.
    Dr.A.Jagadeesh

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