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Modi govt official finally let it slip — doubling farmers’ income by 2022 was always a mirage

In the five years since it was announced, what has the Modi govt’s Doubling of Farmers’ Income plan achieved? Air-time, TRPs, and votes for the BJP.

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Finally, the bluff of Doubling Farmers’ Income has been called.

Not by any critic of the government, but by Dr. Ramesh Chand, Member (Agriculture) of the Niti Aayog. No, it was not a confession. You don’t expect that from functionaries in the Narendra Modi government. Rather, the truth tumbled out in the course of a casual and disingenuous plea for the three farm laws. This is what the PTI’s copy of Chand’s interview reads: “I will say that if these three farm laws are not adopted immediately, then I don’t see that goal (of doubling farmers’ income by 2022) getting fulfilled.”

Just chew on this one. The grand mission of Doubling Farmers’ Income was announced in February 2016. The deadline for meeting this target is 2022. We are already in the fifth year. Now the Modi government’s top expert on agriculture admits that the target may not be realised, not because it was unrealistic to begin with, nor because of any failure on the part of this government, but because of non-adoption of three laws that were introduced in course of the fifth year that have been stalled for the last three months. Weird logic? Well, you have not followed the story of the mirage called DFI — Doubling of Farmers’ Income.

Also read: Why 3 new FCI foodgrain procurement orders have triggered anger in Punjab

No homework

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made this announcement at Bareilly on 28 February 2016, a day before the Union Budget. This was not one of the manifesto promises of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). So, you would imagine that some homework had gone into such a major declaration. Presumably, the government would know, first of all, what the farmers’ income was in 2016. It must have done some basic arithmetic on what it would take to double that income within six years. You hope that the government would have at least a rough roadmap of policies that help achieve that target. Finally, you would expect that regular monitoring and review of the farmers’ income follows such a major declaration.

You are wrong on every single count.

As soon as Finance Minister Arun Jaitley repeated the PM’s announcement in his budget speech, questions were asked about what was the farmers’ income at that time and what it would take to double it. No one had any answers. It took the government a few months to answer an elementary arithmetic question: was the calculation going to happen at constant price or current price? In other words, was the target of doubling going to discount inflation? Thankfully, the government finally acknowledged that the target was to double the real income of the farmers, controlling for inflation, and not just their nominal income.

So, what would it amount to in rupee terms? Well, the government appointed a committee, six weeks after making the announcement to the country, to find this out. The Doubling of Farmers’ Income Committee (DFIC), headed by a sensible and knowledgeable civil servant, presented the basic arithmetic of doubling the income in August 2017. The Committee had to extrapolate from an old survey carried out by the National Sample Survey in 2011-12, as there was no other reliable source of data to benchmark the starting point. It estimated the annual income of a farm family in 2015-16 at Rs 96,703. That works out to about Rs 8,000 per month for a family of five or more. Mind you, this income included earning from non-farm activities like service, business or dairy. Doubling of farm income by 2022 would mean annual family income of Rs 1,72,694 at the prices of 2015-16 (doubling of farm income, but not that of non-farm income of the farmer household), or about Rs 2.5 lakh at the expected prices in 2022. This would require farm income to grow at an annual rate of 10.4 per cent in real terms — something Indian farmers had never experienced before.

We were already one and a half years into a six-year mission by the time its starting point and the target were clearly identified.

Also read: Of the three farm laws, Essential Commodities Act 2020 most business friendly

No policy roadmap

What, then, should be the policies to achieve this unprecedented growth? It took the DFIC another year to submit its substantive report in September 2018. The 14-volume report is undoubtedly a comprehensive document on agriculture policies. By the time the report arrived, two and a half years had passed and India was already in election mode. The government had no time to consider the report. The only major step that the BJP government took then, following its defeat in assembly elections, was something the DFIC had not recommended: hand out of Rs 6,000 a year to every farm family.

So, at the halfway mark of this historic mission, the Modi government did not even have a plan on paper on how the farmers’ income was going to be doubled. None of the budgets of this government has made any separate allocation for this publicised programme. Indeed, we do not know if this is a “vision” or a “mission” or a “scheme”. No one has ever clarified its official status. Yet, no BJP leader or spokesperson can speak for a minute on agriculture without mentioning the DFI. The most generous reading of the party’s claims would be that the DFI is not a separate plan or programme, but a vision to be realised through all the agrarian policies put together.

Also read: No title, no money — Women grow 80% of India’s food, but new farm laws unlikely to help them

No monitoring, no data

In that case, what about monitoring and review? So far there is none. In the last five years, the Modi government has not gathered or released a single piece of information about the increase in farmers’ income ever since the announcement of DFI. It has not commissioned any ground-survey to check the progress of this national mission. In 2020, it announced an ‘Empowered Body’ to ‘review and monitor the progress’. It is yet to put out any document in the public domain.

The closest, though not strictly comparable, survey carried out by the NSS in 2018 was junked by this government, apparently because it showed a decline in the real income in rural India. It is fair to assume that we don’t have data on farmers’ income because the government is not interested in bad news.

The closest proxy for trends in farmers’ income during this period is the official data on Gross Value Addition (GVA) in agriculture and allied sectors. The latest official data in the Economic Survey of 2021 shows that the average rate of annual growth of agri GVA during the seven years of the Modi government has been 3.3 per cent, compared to the average of 4.6 per cent during UPA-I and UPA-II. In the last five years, the agri GVA grew by a total of 24.5 per cent. Ramesh Chand expects growth of 3.5 per cent in the coming year.

So, the six years of grand national mission for raising the farmers’ real income by 100 per cent are likely to end with less than 30 per cent actual increase. That works out to about 4 per cent per annum against the target of 10.4 per cent. This is no different from the real increase in farmers’ income between 2002 and 2012.

What, then, has the DFI achieved? Nothing for the farmers. Not to put too fine a point, it was a cynical propaganda device to create positive vibes about the BJP government. Its success is to be measured not by cold agricultural statistics but by air-time, TRPs and votes for the BJP. If there ever was a contest for super-jumla of the century, Doubling of Farmers’ Income would be among the top contenders.

Yogendra Yadav is the National President of Swaraj India. Views are personal.

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  1. 🙏🇮🇳🌍🌷👍🏻Jai Mata Di.
    🙏🏻🇮🇳India S My Dreams.
    We, The Nation – The Spirits Of Mahabharata.:- Lord Krishna’s Voice.
    Namaste & Thanks BJP
    A Leader s one who knows the way,Goes the way & Shows the way.
    Thanks, V Salute & Support U Modi Sir & Ur Extraordinary Work.
    All The Best Our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi Sir For Next Steps.
    Jai Hind 🇮🇳🙏🌷

  2. From the Punjab farmers protest it would appear that farmers and opposition parties are more than happy with the current farm produce income. They have such huge resources that they are able to stay away from home at Delhi border sites with several modern amenities plus feed passers-by. Just add to that if a family member is a govt employee he is in a most comfortable to legitimise his ill-gotten wealth into white by showing tax free bumper crop.

  3. Yadav is wrong. The jumla of doubling the income of farmers was offered and trustingly accepted by the ever gullible public -except in the South with the exception of the most backward of the southern states,ie, Karnataka – even during the campaigning for 2014 elections . I am afraid that the incomes of farmers have stagnated or even shrunk depending on the produce. It is time the bluff of Modi is called and Modi sent back home . if any thing this government lacks it is erudition and knowledge to run India- Indiraji was far & away better , though we used to complain about her lack of erudition . Modi is busy trading flimsy charges and making foolish allegations many of which have boomeranged as in Tamil Nadu . In Tamil country even the BJP’s candidates are not using Modi’s photographs and are even asking for votes in the name of MGR with many candidates not even born when MGR was alive

  4. Yogendra yadav now has become fiirst pappu putting pappi antonio mario in second paositin,pappu rahul in third position,pappi priyanka vadra in fourth position and pappu robert vadra in fifth position.Why this first pappu Yogendra yadav is quite that in 2013 pappi antonio mario called modi maut kaa saudagar and in 2014 pappu rahul tore the page of PM Man mohan singh in presence of PM. Why this pappi and pappu are quite that when China occupied AKSAICHIN Nehru said not a blade of grass grows there . Why this pappu Yogendra yadav is quite that how the Shias, Sufis and Ahmedias are mistreated in Porkistan . Why the pappu Yogendra Yadav is quite that twenty lakhs Uyghurs are in jail in China and China has destroyed all mosques and converted them to toilets.Why this pappu Yogendra Yadav quite that the katwas in Kashmir killed the Kashmiri Pundits and they had to leave kashmir. Why this pappu Yogendra yadav quite that in Patan pappu rahul said asee machine banaungaa ek jagaha sey aloo dalungaa doosree jagahs sey sona niklega

  5. Habitual complainer. You object to bringing enabling provision to increase net income of farmers. And complain farm income did not rise.

  6. No plan, no vision, only empty promises. How long can you fool all the people for all the time?

  7. Farmers of India will remain in perpetual poverty as long as they follow the leftists like this writer . Modi or BJP can do nothing to raise farmers Income if they don t support farm laws reforms. Congress and leftists want them to remain dependent on state largesse and subsidies , MSP s etc. In 1991 Congress party was forced to initiate reform for Indian industries following unprecedented foreign exchange crisis. But it never thought it to bring reform in agriculture sector to wipe out or reduce farm -poverty as the Congress and leftists have vested interest keeping farmers as poor hostages as vote bank for themselves. Even when present Government brought some minor reforms for agriculture sector , they have ben successful in stalling those reforms with out providing any alternative for increasing farmer s income. So as long farmers are in the iron grip of leftists they are condemned to remain poor and dependent on state subsidies.

  8. YY ji, reasoned arguments are futile in front of people who have decided that they don’t care for the futures of themselves, their children or their fellow citizens. All they care about is blaming Nehru, baiting Muslims and shouting down anybody who has anything negative to say about affairs in the country. No thought is given to practical matters of economics or consensus building. It is an obtuse era we are living in and we the public will need to weather the coming storms resulting from large scale deprivation and misery which will surely follow all the asinine economic policies of this govt.

    • Right, but all such people are still anti national. How dare you say the emperor has no clothes.

  9. The thefts of farmers’ income was institutionalized by the gang of Dalals, Adtiyas, politicians, their intellectuals justifiers and media over years. Until 2014 nobody talked of doubling the income, a typical kicking the can down the road was achieved with the Swaminathan report. This Entire gang of beneficiaries wants no change. Roll back the laws is what they want in the name of the exploited. But that does not seem likely. In a democracy protest is a fundamental right and it can be exercised till the cows come home so long as it is peaceful, this lot tried to turn it violent in the hope of a retaliation by police which could be made into international issue. THEY FAILED.
    The Andolankaris know how far to go, Anna is a living example, he knows when to drink his glass of milk. Andolanjeevis need to keep the protests going, it is their livelihood.

  10. It is obvious that one hears only what one wants to hear, reads only what on wants to read and quotes only what one wants to quote and downplays what one does not want to accept. That, some say is democracy and exercising freedom of speech. I wonder!
    Income does not come from nowhere. Increasing subsidies, free money transfers, eternally increasing MSP et al is not the way to increase farmers’ income. It is just redirection of tax payers’ money. To increase his (her) income, the farmer has to get involved in the process from seed to plate, and not only in “selling” his produce. He (she) has to be part of the machinery in the supply chain. He has to plan his crops the scientific way and not the MSP way as is done in many fertile parts in the North West of the country.
    If the farmer is misled and used by politicians and activists to meet their personal ends and ambition, he just can’t increase his income. In fact, it will decrease over time when he is persuaded by vested interests to forever protest, agitate, riot, lay siege to towns and cities and just not listen to reason. Beside he can’t ply his trade as his time is uncannily taken away by unscrupulous politicians.
    Activists like MS Swaminathan, Anna Hazare etc. had immense knowledge on the activities they undertook. Activists can’t only support protests as a right but are also expected to guide those affected. Unfortunately, that is not happening in this case and in many such cases. The agenda of those “supporting” such causes is always something other than the cause. Sad.

    Tail piece: She that does good to another also does good for herself. But she that does good to only herself at the expense of others does irreparable harm to others.

  11. Useless person who only creates troubles before each elections but never goes into the substance of issues. Be it CAA or farm bill he is everywhere trying to agitate people. And now he plays victim card and making sweeping statements.

  12. Polymath Yogendra Yadav has donned his Agri expert cap again. What shall we witness next? Defence scientist? Nuclear non-proliferation expert?
    As far as this article goes, here are my thoughts.
    This government is very ambitious (maybe a bit over-ambitious). They may not meet all the deadlines they have set. The fact is, a large number of people in this country still believe that the government has the right intentions and that they have achieved a lot more than most other governments have in the past. Another fact-no government in the past has met, or in the future will meet most deadlines. India with its bureaucracy, federal multi-party system, population, and myriad other problems and complications, is too hard to govern. The people of this country have realized this, and they are willing to place their bets on a government that has clear intentions and the willpower to take decisions without being lazy, paralyzed, or just plain corrupt. The government has made mistakes, but after six decades of a corrupt, dynasty-driven rule, many Indians have become more forgiving.

  13. Doubling farmers income in 5 years is a myth. Politicians keep harping on this melody since independence for political gains.

  14. It is a sheer non sense article. The govt. had put in place several measures to achieve the results in this direction. Certainly it cannot be only govts. action which can achieve results. The sense less and anti nationals are trying to create hurdle, but they will certainly fail in front of the committed and strategic govt le.

    • I do the same. Andolanjeevi writes pure rubbish. It is often helpful to read from others’ comments what the jeevi has said.

  15. Andolanjeevi is back – with a whimper….
    He sets fire to something and then complains about the smoke.
    Such people should be encouraged to emigrate to an Arab country with the hope of starting an Arab Spring……

  16. Id.iot, you tried your lvel best to sabotage this plan and went as far as insulting Tiranga and creating law and order situation on 26 january. Country’s image was destroyed, because of you and you have gall to come to these pages even now. in a proper country, you would have been behind bar, by this time. Shame.

  17. Looks like Mr. Yadav has not actually sold any farm produce in the mandi. The farmer currently sells his goods at a PROFIT of Rs, 0.5 or 1 per kilo. THIS IS THE INCOME for the farmer. The new farm laws enable the farmer to sell his goods at a profit of Rs. 4 to 5 a kilo. That is what results in doubling of income.

  18. Why doesn’t YY advise the farmers to take a positive stand and talk to the Centre on a clause by clause discussion of the laws ?

  19. Doubling farmers income was the target set. Even if 75 percent is achieved it would be great for which the farmer’s leaders should cooperate in implementing the reforms enunciated in farm laws.

  20. For a change, I agree with Yadav. But no one thought seriously about this election Jumala and this cannot be used to justify futile agitation against farm laws.

  21. Failed zhola wallah, aandolanjeevi is back …………….. Yaaaawwwnnnn.
    Who reads this guy’s trash?

  22. Yes YYji will now write another article enlightening us all how his useless farm protests will double farmer’s income. Commie economists are to economics what quacks are to medical science. Aur lootlo taxpayer money ko.

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