By Tarujyoti Buragohain
Prime minister Narendra Modi had made a mention of his dream to see farmers’ income double in 2022, on February 28,2016, while addressing a kisaan rally in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh. The Ashok Dalwai Committee made it clear that the target of doubling farmers’ incomes was in real terms and the goal was to be achieved over 7 years with the base year of 2015-16. The committee stated that a growth rate of 10.4% per annum would be required to double farmers’ income.
The NSSO released the 77th round of its Situation Assessment Survey (2018-19)., Juxtaposing its findings against those of the SAS 2012-13, we see that the average agricultural household earned a monthly income of `6,426 and `10,218, respectively, in 2012-13 and 2018-19, in nominal terms.
In nominal terms, the compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) is 8.04%. When we used the GDP, CPI-Al and WPI deflators to convert the income in real terms, CAGRs of the real income of the farmers were found to be 4.1%, 3.1% and 6%, respectively. Hence, we chose to use WPI to convert the nominal income to real income, as this deflator has been used widely.
The NSSO estimates the farmers’ household income in seven groups based on land size holdings in hectares, viz:(i) <0.01, (ii) 0.01-0.4, (iii) 0.41-1, (iv) 1.01-2, (v) 2.01-4., (vi) 4.01—10 and (vi) 10 above.The CAGRs of real incomes (deflated by WPI) are 14%, 8.3%, 6.5%, 5.6%, 5.3%, 4.3% and 4.6%, respectively, for the <0.01, 0.01-0.4, 0.41-1, 1.01-2, 2.01-4, 4.01—10 and 10 hectare and above landholding categories. As per the latest Agricultural Census, India has 14.65 crore agricultural households of which 10.03 crore belong to the first three categories—this means about 68% of the farmer population consists of marginal farmers. The average CAGR of the first three categories is 9.6%.
This growth rate is very close to the recommended growth rate of 10.45. At the state level, very high growth rates are observed in Uttarakhand (17.1 %), followed by Meghalaya (14.2 %), and Bihar (11.2 %). The highest share of total incomes among those who own <0.01, 0.01-0.4 and 0.41-1 hectare of land comes from wages/salary. The shares of wages/salary in income for these three classes of landholding are 57.4%, 59.7% and 45.6%, respectively, in 2018-19—as against 63.6%, 57.5% and 38.3% 2012-13. The share of income from animal farming is 18.6%, 15.4% and 15.6%, respectively, in 2018-19.
This should indicate a positive impact of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Act (MGNREGA) on increasing farmers’ income. This is the largest intervention in the wage/labour market. Also, the National Livestock Mission (NLM), which was launched in 2014-15 by the government to enhance the breed development of farmed animals, the level of nutrition for livestock and provide extension services, has helped improve the standards of living of livestock farmers, especially the small -holders. At a time when the government aims to double farmers’ income in real terms, guaranteeing above 100 days work guarantees under the MGREGA and larger investment in the livestock sector would perhaps be the right approach.
Associate Fellow, NCAER. Views are personal