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Centre mulls major agricultural reforms to double farmers’ income

PTI | New Delhi |

A committee formed by the Centre to double farmers' income by 2022 is considering major reforms in agriculture sector, like adopting a profit-centric approach and to aim at increased productivity and reduced cost of cultivation.

The inter-ministerial panel, constituted in April last year, is also looking at suggesting market reforms in a big way and increasing focus on sub-sectors of agriculture like animal husbandry, poultry and fisheries.

"What we (are) really looking at is to recommend strategies that would be practical in nature and would help both the governments at the national level and state level and also down the line to adopt practices which are very practical in doubling the income of farmers," committee's Chairman Ashok Dalwai told PTI in an interview. He was in Hyderabad last week for an event.

The committee has been holding consultations with different stakeholders, including ICAR scientists, farmers and professional bodies, and it would submit its report by April this year, said Dalwai, who is Additional Secretary in the Union Ministry of Agriculture.

Noting that majority of farmers in the country are small and marginal, he said making farming viable is the "biggest challenge". The principle of profit generation in agriculture comes from looking at what is the gross output and what is the cost of cultivation, he said.

"Gross output which has been the approach so far, has been to increase production at any cost. But we would like to increase production on a sustainable basis such that resources are not compromised, in all crops, all commodities and all sub sectors of agriculture. So, the gross output in terms of value to farmer," he said.

The post-harvest management, involving how the commodity is stored, transported and marketed assumes enormous importance, he said. Another important thing being examined by the committee is the role of important drivers of growth like animal husbandry, poultry, fisheries and horticulture.

"Considering that consumption patterns are changing today, people are now going for high value crops like meat, milk, egg and fruits and vegetables…the farmers can produce those things. It has to be a market-led demand-driven approach. This is what the committee is looking at," he said.