Farm income to fall by 20-25%, irrigation may counter impact: Economic Survey

The Economic Survey on Monday said climate change could reduceannual farm income by up to 20-25% in “unirrigated” areas in the country and called for urgent expansion of irrigation networks as a crucialadaptation measure to ward off the challenges of extreme weather events.

Analysing a trend of rising temperature and declining rainfall during 1970-2015, the survey also noted that the impact could reduce farmers’ income across the country by 15-18% in the medium term with areas without irrigation facilities facing the brunt. Asking the government to take “radical follow-up action” to achieve its objective of addressing agricultural stress and doubling farmers’ income, the survey suggested use of new technologies and better targeting of power and fertiliser subsidies.

“Minimising susceptibility to climate change requires drastically extending irrigation via efficient drip and sprinkler technologies and replacing untargeted subsidies in power and fertiliser by direct income support,” said the survey. It also called for review of cereal-centric policy where the government has over the years been focussed more on production and productivity of food-grains. Thereview may shift the focus to horticulture and agro-forestry. Besides raising concerns around climate change, the survey also noted ‘feminisation’ of theagriculture sector because of growing migration of men from rural to urban areas and called for gender-specific interventions to support women.

Noting that the contribution of women to food production cannot be ignored for sustainable development of agriculture and rural economy, the survey called for an inclusive transformative policy that should aim at gender-specific interventions to raise productivity of small farm holdings,integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise. Since agriculture is a state subject, the survey also strongly advocated a mechanism similar to the GST Council to bring more reforms in the agriculture sector and boost farmers’ income.

At present, about 45% of farm land is under irrigation. The Indo-Gangetic plain, and parts of Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are well irrigated. But parts of Karnataka, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are still extremely vulnerable to climate change for not being well irrigated. Stating that climate change will increase farmer uncertainty, the survey called for effective crop insurance and use of technology to make farming resilient. “Building on the currentcrop insurance programme (Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana), weatherbased models and technology (like use of drones) need to be used to determine losses and compensate farmers within weeks,” it said.

Source:-The Economic Times-Mumbai

Date:-30th Jan, 2018

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