Low food prices make doubling of farmers' income tougher: J M Financial

Of the 13 surveyed states, agricultural income over the previous year has shown a decline in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar while it has remained flat in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana.

The continuing low food prices has adversely impacted agri income growth that would make the task of doubling farmers' income a much tougher task, a JM Financial report said on Wednesday.

The previous NDA government has set a target of doubling farmers' income by 2022.

The report, based on the financial services company's 10th Rural Safari conducted across 13 states, has noted that though prospects for the upcoming Rabi season are better, a sustained pick-up in agri cash flow would depend on expansion of the minimum supportr price (MSP)-based procurement and sustenance of high vegetable prices.

The initial indications for both, however, are not very supportive, the survey-based report has added.

The climatic conditions and sowing patterns have presented a very mixed outlook on agriculture this year. While the South and West seem to be doing well, East and Central India are soft, the report said.

Even crop-wise, while prices of vegetables have risen, the prices of larger crops haven't seen any significant pricing momentum.

"So, we can say that the initial optimism is waning a bit and can hold up only if MSP based procurement picks up significantly and if that doesn't, the optimism due to expectations of a strong Rabi crop also might fall," the J M Financial survey said.

The survey has also said that while rural income in 2019-20 would be ahead of 2018-19, growth is likely to be tempered and modest, at best. It has suggested that the income transfer scheme (PM-Kisan) needs to expand its coverage for the betterment of the sector.

Of the 13 surveyed states, agricultural income over the previous year has shown a decline in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar while it has remained flat in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Haryana.

Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Rajasthan have shown modest growth while Punjab, and Gujarat have shown strong growth.

The survey has also indicated weakness on the demand front. In fact, it has said that weakness indicated in the "informal sector" in the last survey has further accentuated, which has constricted demand and consumption across categories.

While weather (floods) have played a part in it, "formalisation / regulatory changes continued to be a headwind for smaller business."

To add to this, credit growth has deteriorated post September 2018, while weak government spending by both the Centre and states has not eased the situation any further. Real estate activity has also weakened substantially even in parts that were holding up.

"We note high caution in consumption sentiment, down-trading by consumers, high deferment in automobiles and deterioration in collection efficiency for financials. A broad-base recovery of consumption in FY20 therefore remains back-ended," the survey has said.


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