Modi says govt wants to double farmers' income, skips contentious issues

With farmers in many parts of the country restive at falling prices for their produce, Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi again sought to assure them that his government was committed to double their incomes by 2022.

In an event billed as a rare instance of a PM interacting directly with farmers (via video conferencing, to over 600 districts), Modi, without dwelling on the issue of falling prices, sought to highlight his government’s achievements. That included a promise to guarantee a minimum support price of 1.5 times the cost of production. 

That cost, Modi said, would include hired labour, irrigation, fertiliser and seed, on hiring machinery, the land revenue, interest on working capital and rent on leased land.  

Modi said the Centre was working on four main ways to double incomes. That included lowering the cost of production, enabling farmers to get the right price for produce, stopping wastage of food, and finding alternative source of incomes.

“When we said we want to double farmers’ incomes, people mocked that it is not possible. We believe the Indian farmer is willing to take a risk and get performance; he has done it in the past,” Modi said.

Cultivators had, he said, achieved record production of foodgrain, cereals and pulses in the past four years. “In 2017-18, we achieved 280 million tonnes, a new record,” the PM said. He gave various other statistics on output rising during the four years of his government.

He went to list other achievements, such as irrigation schemes, the plan to link village markets with wholesale ones and other programmes.

The interaction was facilitated through Krishi Vigyan Kendras and common service centres. None of the participants said anything on the difficulties they faced in agriculture, including falling prices for produce.

The three largely agrarian states of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, and Rajasthan are all ruled by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party. All three have seen big farmer agitations in recent years on produce pricing. All three also have state elections scheduled in the next six months and the Opposition Congress party has made farm distress a campaign issue.

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