Strategies for Doubling Farmers' Income in Rajasthan
Authors: Narayan Lal*1 Vijay didal2 Mahendra3 Rajendra jangid4
1Department of Agriculture Economics, SKNAU, Jobner
2Department of Agronomy, PJTSAU, Hyderabad
3Department of Agriculture Economics, SKNAU, Jobner
4Department of Agriculture Economics, SKRAU, Bikaner

Hon'ble Prime Minister of India has emphasized his vision for doubling the income of farmers of the nation by the year 2022 when the nation will celebrate 75th year of Independence. During last few months, elaborate and extensive exercise has been started by the Niti Aayog for devising appropriate strategies throughout the country on this mandate. Faster agriculture growth is the most effective route to inclusive growth, especially when the share of agriculture in Gross Value Added(GVA) is just above 17 per cent, (2014-15) which is shared by more than half of our population. Simple mathematics shows that the per capita income of those involved in agriculture is almost one third of an average Indian. Further, within the agriculture sector, the inequitable distribution of landholdings (85 per cent of SF/MF cultivating in 45 per cent of area) makes the small and marginal farms the poverty hotspot of the country. Hence, every effort to inclusive growth has to address the income enhancement in agriculture and those weak, within the sector. The Government of India (GoI) announcement of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, having a direct impact on almost half of the population, comes as an endorsement of the above strategy, aiming for a sense of income security to farmers in a time bound manner. The subject has attracted of lot of attention, generating thoughts and debates on policy, strategy and implementation to achieve the goal. The paradigm has changed from food security to income security for the farmers in a specific time frame, which calls for creating enabling environment.

Important strategies:

Increase in Crop Productivity: - In a view of ever – increasing demand for food, increased production per unit area is critical. Since increase in area may not be a feasible option, improved yield appears as the only solution. Though high yields are a resultant of various agronomic and crop production factors, seeds or planting material, irrigation and crop nutrition are the primary factors.

Rajasthan is India’s largest producer of musterd (40%), bajra (40%), guar (80%), isabgol(90%), henna (98%) and coriander (65%). The state is also one of the leading producers of pulses, spices, soybean, maize and wheat. Productivity in Rajasthan is higher than the national average for many crops, viz. bajra, wheat, cotton, mustard and citrus fruits.

Productivity of high value crops like fruits, vegetables and flowers has increased at a CAGR of more than 10% in Rajasthan between 2011 and 2016. However, yield of coarse cereals & millets and pulses has dipped. Growth rate in productivity of spices is also low in Rajasthan. Rajasthan also has great potential to improve the yield of flowers, medicinal plants, vegetables and non-citrus fruits. Because of significance of cereals and millets as a staple food, and spices and flowers as revenue generating crops, it is imperative on the part of the state government to facilitate yield increase for such crops. Pest and disease have been one of the prime reasons for low crop yields in the state. Use of resistant varieties and hybrids, in addition to integrated nutrient management (INM), can boost crop productivity.

Seed Replacement:- Adoption of superior planting material like hybrids or HYVs has been a challenge. Sale of hybrid seeds is primarily by the private sector. These need to be made more affordable for small farmers to enable replacement of local varieties with superior ones. At present, 70% of gross cropped area in the state is cultivated with HYV seeds. Government of Rajasthan can incentivize private players to set up local manufacturing units to bring down the costs of good quality seeds. Additionally, the cost of hybrids may be subsidized further to expand the area under hybrids and HYV.

Seed replacement ratio (SRR) for crops like mustard, bajra, maize, barley, wheat and BT cotton is high in Rajasthan, while that for other crops like cowpea, black gram, paddy, groundnut, moth and guar is reportedly low and need to be improved. Rajasthan, one of the major producers of mustard in India (40% share in total production), may benefit through large scale adoption of high yielding superior varieties of mustard. Awareness and availability of various biotic and abiotic stress – tolerant cultivars and those suitable for different end uses, should thus better.

High Resource Use Efficiency:- Adoption of superior cultivars also demand higher usage of resources like water and fertilizer. 61% of Rajasthan`s geographical area lies in arid or semi– arid zones, with low fertility and poor water holding capacity. On the one hand, there is acute scarcity of water resources and on the others, farmers tend to use irrigation water injudiciously.

Currently 35 – 40 % agriculture area in Rajasthan is irrigated and nearly less than 10% of net cultivated area in Rajasthan is micro – irrigated, Most of the micro irrigated area is covered through sprinklers (90%). Area under micro irrigation (drip and sprinklers) needs to increase manifold to negate the impact of adverse monsoons and realize the benefits of superior cultivars. Increased water use efficiency and fertilizer use efficiency is essential to derive maximum production per unit quantity of resources used.

Increase in cropping intensity:- Vagaries of weather and limited ability to invest often forces farmers to invest fewer crop cycle or cultivation in smaller areas. Cropping intensity is the rario of gross cropped area to net cropped area. In Rajasthan, the ratio is 143%. This implies scope to increase cropping intensity in the season (rabi and summer). Thus, farmers must be encouraged to grow multiple crops during all three seasons and cultivate the agricultural land available with them. Since scarcity of water has been a constraint, spread of micro-irrigation is critical to achieve higher cropping intensity. Choice of crops is important. Farmers may be advised to grow hardy crops like coarse cereals and guar during non rainy periods. Research in crop production systems have come up with various innovative farming techniques like intercropping, multi storey cropping, border cropping, etc.

Crop Diversification:- Crop diversification is probably one of the most cost effective and assured means to boost farmers income. While there are several alternatives available, viz. shifting to genetically superior hybrid and varieties, cultivating high value crops with diversified usage, etc., awareness among farmers is still low.

Farmers should diversify their portfolio to mitigate losess from crop failure or price dip etc. Cultivating high value crops (fruits, vegetables, flowers etc), crops with multiple end uses (maize, castor, guar etc) and short duration or less water requiring crops, (e.g. coarse, cereals like- bajra, jowar etc.) should be considered. Such crops better cost benefit ratio. Coarse cereals are abiotic stress tolerant in general. Because of their health benefits, the demand for coarse grains is steadily increasing. Hence farmers can cash in on the rising demand for millets or coarse cereals. Such crops diversifications can also and hence climate resilience of farmers. Hence it is optimum crop mixes that can help farmers obtained highest possible return on their investments.

Reforms in Agri. Sectors:- Increased remuneration is the best motivation for farmers to produce more since policies affect production in a considerable way, it is important that or laws, policies and schemes ensure increase in income at farm level

Land Leasing Reforms Approximately 7% of cultivated area is under leased cultivation, annually. A formal and transparent contract system to safeguard such cultivators `rights is still evolving. They are deprived of access to credit facilities and subsidies on inputs like-fertilizers provided by the government, one of the worst consequences is there in eligibility to avail crop insurance schemes to hedge themselves against crop loss these insecure tenants are therefore hesitant to make any investment in the land, the land owners on the other hand also apprehend loss of right on their land and choose to avoid farming and use their land for non-farm purpose. Hence there is possible loss of precious cultivable land which can otherwise be used to raise high value crops.

Farmer Friendly Agriculture Markets :-Inability to reach better markets has been primary reasons for agrarian distress. In the past restricted of agri produce under APMC Act had crippled farmers but recently states have successfully initiated amendments to model APMC Act 2003 leading to better execution of alternate market channels. Rajasthan incorporated most of the reforms in the state of APMC Act in 2005. The reforms have helped weed out intermediary in agri. Value chain and made the process friendlier.

Use of ICT for weather and market information:- Adoption of ICT- based location specific weather and crop advisory data is highly recommended to help overcome climate change associated vulnerabilities in the agriculture systems. ICT also play a major role in price discovery and transparency of agriculture commodities and produces. Farmers can stay alert on prevailing prices and make informed decision on sale of their produce. Hence, promotion of ICT in agriculture can be a huge leap forward in facilitating better remuneration for farmers. e.g. mobile app., Emitra, computerized PACS, Adhar based e-KYC. Etc.

Improved storage: - Post-harvest management is vital link in any food chain and in a way, determines the remuneration received by farmers. Post-harvest processes are usually unscientific and conventional methods of storage and handling adversely impact quality and price realized by farmers. Scientific storage system is expected to increase shelf life of produce, reduce pilferage, losses and decrease the cost of handling. Depending on the diverse nature of agri-commodities being produced in the state, there is requirement of different types of storage infrastructure (warehouses, cold rooms, mobile pre-cooling units, cold storages).

Processing and value addition:- Price received by the farmers depends on multiple factors,viz:

  • Awareness on demand and better markets for the produce
  • Quality of produce offered
  • Value addition to produce
Farmers in Rajasthan have gradually started embracing demand driven simple processes and technologies that increase the value of the produce manifold. Primary processing which includes basic cleaning, grading & sorting and packaging of produce should be encouraged at farmers level or cluster level with common infrastructure. Similarly, simple value addition techniques make products end-use-specific and hence fetch higher prices, e.g. dehydrated onion flakes and powdered garlic.

Integrated farming:- Integrated farming for sustainable agriculture is a default practice in Rajasthan. Livestock rearing is a supplementary source of income in farm households and contribute 30-50% of farmers income (agriculture and allied activities) and 11% of Rajasthan`s GDP. Inclusion of animal husbandry as an integral component of agriculture system in the state will help diversify investments of farmers and secure their returns. Integrated farming will also promote sustainable cyclic economy at household level.

Dissemination on innovations and information through cluster approach:- For propagation of any useful practice, innovation or technology and farm mechanization on a large scale, awareness among farmers is a must. Be it adoption of improved seed varieties or practices of scientific means of cultivation or knowledge of markets, farmers need to be will informed. Also, the benefits of any innovation or improved practice must be demonstrated for wide acceptance amongst the farming community.

Doubling farmers income – The way forward:- While several efforts are underway to enhance farmers income in the state, cost and returns optimization at farm level is of high importance. This includes both reduction in cost of cultivation and increase in returns per unit area put to farming. Minimize the cost of production through optimum use of available resources like agricultural inputs and human labour.

About Author / Additional Info:
I am currently pursuing Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from SKRAU, Bikaner.