Union Budget 2022-23: No mention of doubling farmers’ income in Sitharaman’s speech

Omission of references to doubling farmers’ speech surprising given that 2022 is the target year for the scheme

By Shagun
Published: Tuesday 01 February 2022
Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock Photo: iStock

There was no mention of the target of doubling farmer’s income (DFI) in either Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech February 1, 2022 or the budget documents. The omission is surprising as 2022 is the deadline for that target.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced February 28, 2016 that by the time India celebrated its 75th Independence Day in 2022, its farmers’ income would have doubled. 

Last year, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar had said the budget of 2021-22 was aimed at achieving that target. The final budget before the deadline of the target could have been an opportunity for the Centre to outline its work under it and give an overview on the status quo.

Read DTE’s coverage on doubling farmers income

The target seems far away according to recent reports on farmers’ incomes.

The benchmark estimated annual income was Rs 96,703 in 2015-16 which was taken as a base year, according to the government’s DFI report. This comes to be Rs 8,059 per month, which was promised to be doubled in real terms, taking inflation into account by 2022.

“As such, the target income for doubling by 2022 is Rs 21,146 per month (taking inflation also into account),” a statement by Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture or ASHA, said.

However, the estimated monthly income of farm households in 2018-19 was Rs 10,218 per month in nominal terms, as the 77th round of Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households released in 2021 shows. It is nowhere near the target of Rs 21,146 per month. 

“The budget was characterised by silence; earlier you had beautiful dialogues about farmers. This was the 6th year of doubling of farmers’ income. The previous five budgets had long poems about this target but now, when it was about accounting for those six years, there was silence,” said Yogendra Yadav of Jai Kisan Andolan.

Another crucial programme that was largely missing in its details was the government’s promotion of the organic farming scheme. Organic farming or natural farming has been listed by the government in the past as one of the activities to achieve DFI target. However, there was nothing much in the budget to that effect.

The only two points highlighted during Sitharaman’s speech in this connection were:

  • States will be encouraged to revise syllabi of agricultural universities to meet the needs of natural, zero-budget and organic farming, modern day agriculture, value addition and management.
  • Promotion of chemical-free natural farming throughout the country, with a focus on farmers’ lands in five-kilometre-wide corridors along the Ganga, in the first stage.

But there is no elaboration of this in the budget document. The Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY), which stresses on end-to-end support to organic farmers, has not got any allocation in this year’s budget, according to the budget document.

The only allocation towards organic farming in the budget is of Rs 198 crore towards its development in the North East region.

“The announcements related to organic and natural farming in the budget today are very small steps compared to the need of the hour and specifically after Prime minister’s appeal in December to make natural farming a mass movement,” Amit Khurana, director, Sustainable Food Systems Programme, Centre for Science and Environment, said.

Shweta Saini, who is a Senior Fellow with ICRIER and researches on Indian agricultural policies, said the government has been putting a thrust on zero budget natural farming but that thrust is not visible in the budget.

“Organic farming is diluted in the budget numbers. The document only speaks about its development in the North East region,” she said.

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