In July, two interesting things happened that can help Indian farmers to a large extent in augmenting their incomes. First, the Union Finance Minister (FM) in her maiden budget speech asked why the annadata (farmer) cannot become the urjadata (producer of solar power). Second, in Parliament, the agriculture minister for state, responding to a question on the prime minister’s promise of doubling farmers’ income (DFI) by 2022, admitted that the existing set of policies cannot double farmers’ real incomes by 2022.
I welcome and appreciate this honesty, although the prime minister may still be optimistic about fulfilling his dream of doubling farmers’ income by 2022. I have been saying this for the last two years through this newspaper column that it is almost impossible to attain this goal by 2022 with the set of policies that the government has adopted. They will not achieve even half the target. The remaining four years till 2022-23 require real incomes of farmers to go up by 13-15 per cent per annum. But, as they say, nothing is impossible in this world, so here is my single suggestion to move in that direction.
But, before that, let us quickly recapitulate the debate on this slogan of doubling farmers’ income given by the PM in Bareilly in February 2016. The PM said it is his “dream” to double farmers’ income by 2022. It was followed by the setting up of a committee headed by Ashok Dalwai in April 2016. The Committee clarified real incomes will need to be doubled over seven years (over a base income of 2015-16), which requires a growth rate of 10.4 per cent per year. The Committee submitted its final report in September 2018. It comprises of 14 volumes (almost 3,000 pages) and 619 recommendations. These volumes contain a wealth of information, but I doubt any government can implement 619 recommendations even in five years. My humble submission to our friend Ashok Dalwai and his team is that they will do a great national service if they bring out a summary of 14 volumes in 20-25 pages, and prioritise just five to 10 recommendations from a laundry list of 619.
But, let us get back to the FM’s statement on the annadata becoming the urjadata. This one policy has the potential to double farmers incomes within a year or two. How? Here are the details.
The PM has also set a target of producing 100 GW of solar power by 2022. He wan