Enhancing farmers’ income: who to target and how?

Agriculture supports more than half of India’s population, but the per capita income of farmers is only about one-fifth of the average per capita income of the country. Moreover, the farming community now has been experiencing a situation of distress on account of several factors, such as declining landholding size, rising cost of production, increasing frequency of extreme climatic events, viz. droughts, heat waves and floods, and poor prospects of employment outside agriculture. In order to improve the economic status of farmers the government of India in its annual budget of 2016-17 set a policy target of doubling farmers’ income by 2022, and reiterated its commitment in the budget of 2017-18 as well. This is a challenging task, but not difficult if the growth strategies are appropriately designed and targeted. By identifying target farmers and their locations; and infrastructural and institutional requirements this paper suggests pathways and policy choices for enhancing farmers’ income.