New Delhi: The Report of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income (DFI) is documented in fourteen volumes. The Committee focuses on seven major sources of growth, operating within (6) and outside (1) the agriculture sector. The priority assigned to each will vary depending on the status of agricultural development in States and Union Territories. These sources are:
Within the agriculture domain
· Improvement in crop productivity.
Improvement in livestock productivity.
Resource use efficiency or saving in cost of production.
Increase in cropping intensity.
Diversification towards high value crops.
Improvement in real prices received by farmers.
Outside the agriculture domain
· Shift from farm to non-farm occupations.
The DFI Committee addresses agriculture as a value led enterprise and suggests empowering farmers with “improved market linkages” and enabling “self-sustainable models” as the basis for continued productivity-production and income growth for farmers. This builds the basic strategy direction for five primary concerns:
1. Optimal monetisation of farmers’ produce,
2. Sustainability of production,
3. Improved resource use efficiency,
4. Re-strengthening of extension and knowledge based services, and
5. Risk management.
In Volume-I, the growth of agriculture in the last 70 years is analysed with the current status. An appropriate context is set, with farmers’ income as the basis of agriculture, in place of production as it has been, for a comprehensive understanding of the needed directional change.
In Volume-II, the DFI Committee tables the “growth targets” for doubling farmer’s real income while improving the ratio between farm and non-farm income from 60:40 as of now, to 70:30 by 2022-23. It suggests the following strategy:
Adopting a “demand-driven approach” for efficient monetisation of farm produce and to synchronise the production activities in Agriculture & Allied Sectors.
Improving and optimising input delivery mechanism and overall input efficiency [technologies, irrigation methods, mechanisation, Integrated Pest Management (IPM), Integrated Nutrient Management (INM), farm extension services, adaptation to climate change, integrated agri-logistics systems, Integrated Farming Systems Approach, etc.].
Offering institutional credit support at the individual farmer and cluster levels.
Strengthening linkages with MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), to accelerate growth in both farm as well as non-farm incomes along with employment creation.
Farmers’ income is directly related to cost of agricultural production (including input costs) and profitable monetisation of the agricultural produce, through effective market linkages.
In Volumes III–XIII, the DFI Committee deliberates upon specific economic activities and topics that have a durable impact on farmers’ income. Some of these are categorised as follows:
Demand Driven Agricultural Logistics System for post-production operations such as produce aggregation, transportation, warehousing, etc.
Developing Hub and Spoke System at back-end as well as front-end to facilitate and promote a new market architecture so that all kinds of farmers can avail services that empowers them to physically connect and supply to any market in the country of their choice.
Marketing Intelligence System to provide demand led decision making support system – forecasting system for agricultural produce demand and supply, and crop area estimation to aid price stabilisation and risk management.
Agricultural Value System (AVS) as an integration of the supply chain and to drive market led value system – District level, State level and National Level Value-System Platforms to promote individual value chains to integrate into a sector-wide supply chain.
Farmer-centric National Agricultural Marketing System by restructuring for a new market architecture, consisting of Primary Retail Agriculture Markets (PRAMs/GrAMs numbering 22,000) and Primary Wholesale Agricultural Markets (APMCs/APLMs-other markets numbering around 10,000), as also secondary & tertiary agricultural markets, all of which are networked by online platforms to facilitate a pan-India market access; as also integrating the domestic market with export market by considering the latter as a targeted market activity and not just an add-on.
Promoting Sustainable Agriculture – Climate Resilient Agriculture, Rainfed Agriculture, Conservation Agriculture, Ecology Farming, Watershed Management System, Integrated Farming System, Organic Farming, Agro-Climatic Regional Planning, Agricultural Resources Management and Micro-Level Planning, etc.
While the above alternate systems are to be adopted & scaled up, the modern agro-chemical based cultivation practices shall be promoted based on the principle of evidence based, minimal/integrated and efficiency targeting resource use (eg., Soil Health Card recommendations as the basis for soil nutrient management). It is essential that sustainable agriculture is not limited to certain geographies alone, but reaches larger cultivation practices and incorporates evidence based and good agricultural practices.
Effective Input Management achieving Resource-Use-Efficiency (RUE) and Total Factor Productivity (TFP) – Water, soil, fertilisers, seeds, labour-farm mechanisation, credit and precision farming, so as to reduce farm losses, while ensuring sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
Enhancing Production through Productivity– to achieve & sustain higher production out of less and release land and water resources to diversify into higher value farming for enhanced income.
Farm Linked Activities to include secondary agriculture that utilises local manpower and biological resource in the vicinity of farms. These can also comprise manufacturing and services activities of KVIC (Khadi and Village Industries Commission) and MSME (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises) scale, for promoting near-farm and off-farm income generating opportunities as well as to facilitate more of the farm produce to capture more of the market value.
Agricultural Risk Assessment and Management including drought management, demand & price forecast, weather forecast, management of biotic stress including vertebrate pests, access to credit among farmers for farming operations; providing long term credit, post-production finance to preventing distress sale by farmers, and crop & animal risk management through insurance.
Empowering Farmers through Agricultural Extension, Knowledge Diffusion and Skill Development.
Research & Development and ICT designed to support the Doubling of Farmers’ Income strategy in the short run, and help accelerate the pace of income enhancement on a sustainable basis in the long run.
Structural and Governance Reforms in Agriculture, including building a database of farmers, facilitating farmer & produce mobilisation, institutional mechanism at district, state & national levels for coordination & convergence, digital monitoring dashboard at district, state & national level for seamless & real-time monitoring of field delivery, utilising Panchayat Raj Institutions, and farm income measurement as key delivery channels for transparent and inclusive development.
It also calls for paying special attention to non-timber forest produce (NTFP) to support tribal farming communities to capture higher value and non-farm incomes therefrom.
1.2 Sustaining Income Growth – Five Pillars
The recommendations that emanate from the preceding 13 different volumes, under different themes, strive to align with one or more of the five pillars, that the DFI Committee identifies, as essential to doubling farmers’ income, and sustaining a steady income growth in the long run. These include:
Increasing productivity as a route to higher production.
Reduced cost of production / cultivation.
Optimal monetisation of the produce.
Sustainable production technology.
Risk negotiation all along the agricultural value chain.
1.3 Layout of the Recommendations
The individual volumes of the Report of the Committee on Doubling of Farmers’ Income, communicate about a specific subject, to first prepare the context and deliberate on the logic, before leading to the concluding recommendations for the selected subject.
The recommendations put forth in the first thirteen volumes, are both specific and generic, and will be germane to policy makers, implementing agencies, farmers and farmers’ bodies, farmer-centric opinion makers, NGOs, public and private sector entrepreneurs and investors, subject matter experts and students, as also international bodies interested in Indian agriculture.
It is not possible to capture all the recommendations and lay them in relevant flow and framework, without adding to the bulk and being repetitive. There is also a fear of them being taken out of context and therefore out of step with the logic adopted in each of the volumes. Hence, in compiling the comprehensive recommendations in the final Volume XIV, certain thematic lines have been adopted, yet the readers would benefit more from referring the recommendations to the respective chapters and volumes as per their requirement.
In the last volume, the recommendations have been assigned a period, short term and/or long term. These indicate the opinion of the Committee on the time period required for initiation of action and when its outcome would be realised. Short term indicates a period of maximum of 3 years and long term refers to a period beyond that. While short term activities should be initiated at the earliest, the long term initiatives may take some more time, but should preferably be rolled out as early as feasible so that rise in farmers’ income can be sustained even beyond 2022-23.
As regards the responsibilities for the initiatives, the name of the department(s) and/or ministry(ies) has/have been indicated at a generic level, to allow them to decide on the specific division/organisation to own it up. The Committee is also conscious that there could be several other department(s) and/or ministry(ies) or even organisations in Public/Private/NGO sectors who may also find it useful to act upon the recommendations in their own way. This will bring in greater synergy and spread at the field level.
Committee has recommended to set up an Empowered Body, headed by an officer of appropriate seniority, to monitor the new set of activities, as they are operationalised. This Empowered Body or Authority, can also be mandated to develop guidelines, based on an implementation framework, and provide the needed support system to the principle stakeholders, namely DAC&FW, DAHDF, DARE, other Departments and Ministries.
The DFI Committee was advised to make recommendation in parallel to developing a comprehensive report. In response the Committee not only made several recommendations but also supported rolling out several of them. Over the last three years, various important recommendations that have been adopted and rolled out by the government and are also incorporated in the Union Budget from 2017-18 onwards. A full list of these is in Chapter 12 of Vol-XIV.
The underlying theme of the DFI Report is to promote agriculture as an enterprise and farmer as an entrepreneur necessitating adoption of business principles for positive net returns. Further, agriculture sector as a profession will become wholesome, when transition happens from, food security to nutrition security for the consumers, extractive production system to sustainable production system for the ecology, and from a mere Green Revolution to move towards a Farmers’ Income Revolution or Income Revolution for the farmers.