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Use of Cooperative Federalism Tech of GST Council to Raise Farmers Incomes

PUNE: Economic Survey 2017-18 has projected that to further agricultural reforms and durably raise farmers' incomes, the climate change can reduce annual agricultural income of farmers by upto 25% in unirrigated areas and called use of cooperative federalism "technology" of the GST Council that brings together the Center and States.

The Survey has called for reviewing cereal centricity of agricultural policy, doing away with power and fertilisers and allocating more resources for micro irrigation technology.

The Survey said, "In thinking about agricultural policy reforms in India, it is vital to make a clear distinction between two agricultures in India. There is an agriculture—the well-irrigated, input-addled, and price-and-procurement-supported cereals grown in Northern India—where the challenge is for policy to change the form of the very generous support from prices and subsidies to less damaging support in the form of direct benefit transfers."

The there is another agriculture (broadly, non-cereals in central, western and southern India) where the problems are very different: inadequate irrigation, continued rain dependence, ineffective procurement, and insufficient investments in research and technology (non-cereals such as pulses, soyabeans, and cotton), high market barriers and weak post-harvest infrastructure (fruits and vegetables), and challenging noneconomic policy (livestock).

The Survey has given projections about the impact of climate change on Indian agriculture. The long-term weather pattern implies that climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15 percent to 18 percent on average, and up to 20 percent to 25 percent for unirrigated areas.

The Survey says that there is need to allocate more resources to micro irrigation systems, to achieve the challenge of meeting irrigation needs of farming occur against a backdrop of extreme groundwater depletion, especially in North India.

It also noted, "Fully irrigating Indian agriculture, that too against the backdrop of water scarcity and limited efficiency in existing irrigation schemes, will be a defining challenge for the future. Technologies of drip irrigation, sprinklers, and water management—captured in the "more crop for every drop" campaign—may well hold the key to future Indian agriculture (Shah Committee Report, 2016; Gulati, 2005) and hence should be accorded greater priority in resource allocation."

The Survey calls for replacing power subsidy with direct benefit transfers so that power use can be fully costed and water conservation furthered, it is easy to say what needs to be done however, how this will happen given that agriculture is a state subject is an open political economy question.


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