Climate change may hit plans to double farm income by 2022

Climate change may hit plans to double farm income by 2022

The Economic Survey on Monday painted a grim picture for the farm sector pegging growth at 2.1% in 2017-18 and favoured "dramatic" improvement in irrigation, use of new technologies and better targeting of subsidies to achieve the goal of doubling farmers' income by 2022.

The Survey, tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, issued a strong warning of the possibility of decline in farmers' income by up to 25% if the government ignored the challenges posed by climate change.

"If the observed increase in the number of dry days over the past four decades are applied to the short-run estimates, this channel alone would imply a decrease in farm incomes by 1.2%," the Survey said.

It warned that the farm income losses would decline between 15% and 18% on an average and rising to 20% to 25% in unirrigated areas if there is no policy response from the government to mitigate the challenges posed by climate change.

"At current levels of farm income, that (losses) translates into more than Rs 3,600 per year for the median farm household," the Survey said.

The Survey recommended drastic extension of irrigation through efficient drip and sprinkler technologies and replacing untargeted subsidies in power and fertiliser by direct income support to minimise susceptibility to climate change.

The Survey also said that due to growing rural to urban migration among men, there was growing feminisation of Indian agriculture, with increasing number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs and labourers.

Observing that there was predominance of small operational holding in Indian agriculture, the Survey pitched for consolidation of land holdings to reap the benefits of agricultural mechanisation.

The Survey also noted that since agriculture was a state subject suggested a GST Council-like "technology" to bring together Centre and states to implement agricultural reforms and durably raise farmers' incomes.

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