Doubling of Farm Incomes in India
While addressing a farmers’ rally in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed a desire to double the income of farmers by 2022, which also happens to be the 75th anniversary year of India’s independence. While this goal is certainly noble, the set of institutions that are supposed to help in achieving this goal appear to be oblivious to this dream. Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh has appointed a committee to review the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR). When one reads the terms of reference of this important committee, dated 13 February 2017, which contain 10 agenda items, not even a single item has a mention of the Prime Minister’s dream of doubling of farm incomes. Some desired connection is missing in the policymaking in New Delhi.
The present or the future ICAR review committees need to pay attention to the following three critical issues in designing research agenda for doubling of farm incomes (I have already raised these issues in two letters published in the EPW: “Pulses, Udta Punjab and Nutrition” [9 July 2016], and “What about Water Quality?” [31 December 2016]):
(i) Water and soil pollution in the erstwhile green revolution areas (Punjab, Haryana, Western Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) and heavily- irrigated sugar cane areas: How such pollution can be reduced while doubling farm incomes? What new technologies are needed to address this problem, including genetically modified crops?
(ii) Growing water scarcity and the use of water in agriculture: Should some perennial crops, such as sugar cane, be banned in water-scarce areas?
The role of the livestock sector in doubling of farm incomes: What breeding, health, and meat and milk processing programmes need to be promoted?
Once these areas are tackled, other areas for modernising research and related education can be reviewed. If this is not done, the dream of doubling of farm incomes will remain just a dream.
Chandrashekhar G Ranade
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