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PM Calls Meeting with Experts to Solve Agriculture Crisis

To identify ways in which the government can quickly address the ongoing agrarian crisis and work towards doubling the income of farmers according to a government official familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for a brainstorming session with experts, including economists and academics, and policymakers.

The meeting is scheduled for February 18 and 19 at the Pusa Agricultural Complex in New Delhi. Poll-bound Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh have already unveiled several sops for farmers. Many states have also announced farm-loan waivers to address a crisis brought about by a combination of a bountiful produce and low prices in most cases.

According to the official, the Prime Minister has also invited representatives of farmers.

The official said, “The PM wants conclusive solutions on which the government can get rolling right away. He wants to be briefed then and there on what can be done. The focus is of course on doubling farm incomes. He wants to get the real stories from the ground from farmers’ representatives.”

The government announced in the Union budget presented on February 1 — that it would set minimum support prices for 23 crops at 1.5 times the cost of cultivation. This will effectively mean 50% profits.

The PM will sit through presentations from experts drawn from agricultural universities as well as the Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs). The “modules” or areas marked out for discussions include agricultural marketing, farm technologies, seeds, productivity patterns and allied sectors, such as livestock.

In the 2016-17 budget, the government had said it would raise farmers’ incomes by 100% — or double it by 2022. That isn’t easy with small landholdings and low yields. According to calculations of the Committee on Doubling Farmers’ Income set up by the government, real or inflation-adjusted incomes of farmers’ need to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.4% for earnings to double.


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