1. Agriculture World

Agriculture Sector is yet to see the Benefits of Liberalization: Dr Ashok Dalwai

Chander Mohan
Chander Mohan

The average annual income of a farm household was Rs. 98,000 in 2015-16 that has been taken as the base year. Many initiatives are on to achieve the target with the Centre initiating several measures to liberalize agriculture sector, informed Dr  Ashok Dalwai, Chairman of the Committee on Doubling Farmers Income while addressing the Business Line Agri Summit held in Delhi.  

“While the Indian economy was liberalized in the 1990s, the agriculture sector is yet to see the benefits of liberalization. Though there were a few measures earlier, they were not enough”, he said. 

“Around 10,000 Farmers Producers Organizations & 500 FPOs in fisheries are being promoted. A Model Land Lease Act, 2016, Model APLMC (Agricultural Produce and Livestock Market Committee ) Act, 2017, Model Contract Farming and Services Act, 2018 have also been brought in. Besides, key divisions of agriculture and allied ministries are being re-organized”, he said.

Backing the ambitious plan of the Modi Government to double farmers’ income by 2022 he said,  “What I can tell you at this point is that we are on the right track on achieving the target”.

Dr Dalwai opined that a paradigm shift will alleviate farmers’ condition, the bulk of whom are small and marginal farmers. “As long as we rely on the traditional methods, we won’t get there,” he said. 

Talking on `Doubling Farmers’ Income – The progress So Far’ at the inaugural session of the two-day BusinessLineAgri Summit Dr Dalwai said all the key stakeholders are now talking in one voice on the importance of increasing farmers’ income. 

 He also said that the minimum support prices were not enough to help farmers get a better price. India should look to freeze imports of edible oils at current levels by 2022 by improving local production, supported by procurement, he said, listing out measures to increase procurement of different crops such as pulses and millets. 

He further added  the Government was targeting to double milk processing capacity to 108 million tonnes by 2025 and achieving a production of 20 million tonnes in fisheries. 

Dr Dalwai said budgetary allocations to the agri sector have gone up. But he felt that public investments alone would not help in developing the sector. “Private sector investments need to go up,” he said. 

To help small and marginal farmers, the government had launched PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) through which over 8.52 crore farmers received an aggregate ₹62,469 crore. Under this scheme farmers are given ₹6,000 in three instalments every year. He said it was important to transfer real prices on their produce by improving marketing efficiencies, agri-logistics, processing; Kisan Rail for seamless transport of perishables. 

Earlier welcoming the delegates Business Line Editor Raghavan Srinivasan said though the agriculture sector contributes only 15-20 per cent to GDP, it offers livelihood to over 50 per cent of the population. “Farmers need to have choice to sell at the market of his choice, competition to let him discover price. The sector needs robust reporting on issues that confront it, generation of data and analysis to find solutions.” 

He said a set of recommendations based on the deliberations at the two-day event will be prepared and submitted to the Union Government. 

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