Analysis: The mirage of doubling farmer incomes
The budget for the agriculture sector has been reduced to around Rs 1.15 crore from Rs 1.24 lakh crore last year.
Vikas Meshram | The Prime Minister announced in June 2017 that the income of the country's farmers would double by 2022 and he further promised to double the farmer's income in many places. It was reiterated in every annual budget of the central government till 2021. But he stopped mentioning it after the farmers' agitation against the new agricultural laws and the withdrawal of those laws. Now the year 2023 has come, but far from doubling the income of the farmers, the cost of agriculture has doubled. In the recently presented annual Union Budget 2023-24, the budget for the agriculture sector has been reduced to around Rs 1.15 crore from Rs 1.24 lakh crore last year. Allocation for crop insurance scheme has also been increased to Rs 13,625 crore from last year's Rs 15,500 crore. Subsidies on fertilizers and the Prime Minister's Irrigation Scheme have also been drastically reduced. Instead of doubling the income of the farmers, it is natural that it will come down.
In the 75th year of independence which the government is celebrating in the name of Amrit Mahotsav of Independence, the government has set several goals for 2022. Doubling the income of the farmers is an important objective but the income of the farmer has not doubled but there have been many upheavals in the life of farmers.
Meanwhile, the government introduced three agricultural laws. Which was resisted by the farmers all over the country and not only the country but the entire world witnessed the historic farmers movement. Elections were around the corner and claims were made that farmers' income had doubled but all these claims were hollow. For example, during the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had claimed that the income of farmers in UP had increased manifold. The truth has been revealed that the income of farmers has increased by only three rupees compared to the year 2015-16 and 2021. There was a lot of propaganda but the public did not know the real truth.
It is necessary to check whether the income of the farmer has really doubled. What is the monthly income of the government and how will it assess it?
On July 23, 2021, a question was asked in the Rajya Sabha from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. In a written reply, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said that the estimated average income of farmers in 2015-16 is Rs 96,703 per annum. Accordingly, the monthly average income of farmers was Rs.8,058. Based on this monthly income, as per the government's promise and target, in 2022, the monthly income of farmers should increase to Rs 16,116. So has it happened?
What is the average monthly income of farmers in the country?
According to the target set by the government, it is claimed that by 2022 the income of farmers will double i.e. Rs 16,116 per month. Did the income double? If not, what is the average monthly income of farmers in the country?
On December 16, 2022, a question was asked to the Ministry of Agriculture in the Rajya Sabha regarding the income of farmers. Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar has given a written reply to it. Accordingly, the average monthly income of a farmer in the country is Rs 10,218.
This figure should have increased to Rs 16,116 per month as promised by the BJP government. The truth is that the farmer's monthly income has increased from 8,058 to just 10,218. That is only 26% increase. Government has decided to double the income of farmers. Now the government should be asked what happened to the target of doubling farmers' income in 2023? Why did the government fail? When will farmers' income double?
However, there were many flaws in this target of the government. Because the government was trying to double the national average income figure, the situation is different in different states of the country. Farmers in many states already earn many times the national average. Hence many states could not even touch the national average of 2015-16. Therefore, the law should have targeted doubling the average income of each state. But the government aimed to double the national average, so the condition of farmers did not change much. Unfortunately, the government has failed to meet this target as well.
If we see that, the income status of farmers is different in different states of the country. Meghalaya ranks first in the country in terms of average magazine. Average monthly income of farmers in Meghalaya is Rs 29,348. In second place is Punjab, where the average monthly income of farmers is Rs 26701. Third is Haryana where the average monthly income of farmers is Rs 22841. Arunachal Pradesh ranks fourth with a monthly income of Rs 19,225 and Jammu and Kashmir ranks fifth where the average monthly income of farmers is Rs 18,918.
Two of the top five states with the highest average income in the country are in the Northeast. Jharkhand is the state with the lowest monthly income of farmers in the country, where the monthly income of farmers is only Rs 4,895. That is almost half of the national average. 5,112 in Odisha, 6,762 in West Bengal and 7,542 in Bihar.
The monthly income of farmers in ten states of the country is Rs 10,218 below the national average. Hence the income of some states is nominally higher than the national average. For example, the average income of a farmer in Uttar Pradesh is Rs 8,061. That is, in 2015-16 there was an increase of only Rs 3 over the national average and currently it is Rs 2,157 below the national average. These figures show that the condition of farmers in the bad.