President's Desk

Innovative Approaches for Doubling Farmer’s Income

Doubling farmer’s income by 2022 is quite challenging. Three pronged strategy should be focused on (i) agricultural development initiatives, (ii) adoption of new technology and best farm practices and (iii) policy reforms in agriculture at state level to double farmers’ income. R&D institutions should develop appropriate farming systems and make technological breakthroughs using profitable production methods and raising input efficiency.

During the last five decades ending 2015, India’s food production multiplied by 3.7 times triggered by new technology, new varieties and optimized use of inputs, while the human population grew by 2.55 times. Fortunately, the outcome of the Green Revolution made India self sufficient in food production with marginal gains in the farmer’s income. However, the proportion of farm households suffering from poverty was quite high specially in many states of the East and Central India. Farmer’s income was also lower as compared with the income of non-agriculture workers. This disparity got widened due to crop failures, low price realization for the produce and increased indebtedness over time leading to sporadic farmers suicides in some pockets of the country.

In order to promote farmer’s income, reduce agrarian distress and bring parity between income of farmers and those working in other non-farm activities, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, has rightly set the national goal to double farmer’s income by 2022. That will be time when the country would also complete 75 years of its Independence. The income earned from agriculture was not adequate to keep about 53 per cent farm households out of poverty, who operate on less than 0.63 hectare of land holdings. According to Situation Assessment Survey of Agricultural Households in 2013, the average annual income of a farmer family from farm and non-farm activities was ₹77,112 (60% from crop cultivation and livestock). According to some economic studies, the share of livestock in total farm income ranged from 20 to 29 per cent.

Doubling real income of farmers over the base year of 2015-16 involves a gigantic effort. It would require acceleration of the annual growth rate of 10.5 per cent. The identified measures for agricultural growth are: improvement in crop and livestock productivity, resource use efficiency, increased intensity of cultivation and diversification in high value cash crops and animal products. It may also be desirable to move some farm families away from farming to non-farm activities. It would be necessary to ensure higher price realization through market reforms and efficient market linkages. We must focus on allied farm activities like fruits and vegetable cultivation, agro-forestry, fisheries, bee keeping, livestock production, reduction in post harvest losses, value addition and adoption of efficient post harvest technologies.

The new National Agricultural Policy emphasizes upon the efficient use of resources, conservation of soil, water, bio-diversity and environment with equity and growth across all regions. This policy is framed on the basis of demand in domestic market as well as aligned to export needs. It calls for reclaiming wasteland and fallow lands and water management. It sensitizes public on agroforestry, utilization of traditional knowledge and cultivation of cash crops, medicinal plants and foods with high nutritional value. The policy advocates promotion of public investment in agro-based industries and irrigation and support by way of marketing, warehousing and processing, digitalization of land records and women's right to land. Growth and development of cooperatives is essential to restrain the role of middlemen to prevent exploitation and distress sales in procurement and marketing of agricultural produce. Efforts must be made to return higher share of consumers’ money to producers. We must ensure higher standard of living to all those residing in rural areas and increase their social and economic status in order to prevent migration of youths to cities and towns.

India is a geographically large and second most populous country (129.5 crores) in the world next to China and has more arable land (about 53%) next only to USA. India’s population is expected to reach 1370 and 1660 millions in 2030 and 2050 AD, respectively. A food production target of 289 and 349 million tonnes is needed to meet the demand of projected population. Though India accounts for only about 2.5 per cent of world’s geographical area and 4 per cent of water resources, it has to support about 17 per cent of world human population and 15 per cent of the livestock. The per capita availability of agricultural land has reduced from 0.48 hectares to 0.5 hectares during this period. India's cultivable land is mainly small holdings (65%) and around 80 per cent farmers are small and marginal.

In India, cattle (187 millions) and buffaloes (110 millions) command a share of 12.7 and 56.6 in world livestock population of 1475 and 194 million heads, respectively. India ranks first, third and sixth in total milk, total eggs and total meat production, respectively in world production of animal products.

Small and marginal farmers earn about 40 per cent of their daily income from dairy animals. Dairy farming is becoming attractive and glamorous among educated youths especially in the production of pure cow milk and organic milk in peri-urban areas. The experiences show that in some cases, growth in output brings similar increase in farmer’s income but in many cases farmers income did not grow much with increase in output. The net result has been that farmers income remained low, which is evident from the incidence of poverty among the farm households. The disparity between the income of farm and non farm sector is sometimes 60-70%, which is quite high and requires a policy intervention.

The major growth driver for doubling farmer’s income should primarily include livestock which generate self employment and supplement family income. Livestock serve as the best insurance cover during natural calamities like drought and vagaries of nature. Livestock utilize non edible agricultural residues and industrial by-products and convert them to nutritious human foods and non-food articles. Farm animals serve as moving banks during emergencies. Great opportunities exist for doubling farmer’s income through dairying. The demand for milk and milk products is ever growing to ensure remunerative prices to milk producers and increased income generation.

As far as the dairy farming is concerned, the productivity of livestock is quite low in the country. Average milk yield is 4.90 kg per day in buffaloes and 3.1 kg per day in cows. It is estimated that about 37 per cent growth in milk output has been due to increase in productivity per animal, and not by increase in number of livestock. Growth associated with increase in population of livestock is not sustainable. Breed improvement, better feed and fodders and increased animal health coverage are important measures for raising livestock productivity. To contribute to this initiative in terms of development, the dairy sector is expected to perform well by 2022-23. The coverage under Artificial Insemination (AI) in cattle and buffaloes is at present 35%. The main reason for low artificial insemination is shortage of semen. We require 160 million doses of semen against current availability of 81 million to reach reasonable level of AI. Estimates show that about 4 million breedable buffaloes, 1.3 million cross bred cattle and 6 million breedable indigenous cattle have never calved. Out of above population, at least 2 million buffaloes, 0.8 million crossbred and 3 million indigenous cattle should receive management support for calving by 2020. Age of buffaloes at puberty must be reduced by 3-4 months by 2020 to cut cost of rearing.

Entrepreneurs interested in dairy farming often face the problem of shortage of high yielding animals. There is a good scope for establishing breeding farms for supply of high grade heifers to new comers in dairy business. In-vitro fertilization technique and embryo transfer in cattle and buffaloes have recently gained considerable popularity. Technology for sperm sorting by flow cytometry has become very handy to increase female cows and to prevent birth of male calves. In this technique, spermatozoa are separated into x-(female) and y- (male) chromosomes based on their difference in DNA content. The resultant ‘sex sorted’ spermatozoa are then able to be used in conjunction with AI to produce female calves.

Feeding Costs Some 65% of the Total Expenditure in Milk Production
Balanced feeding of dairy animals using total mix ration is an ideal option. An adult cow requires 0.75 kg of crude protein daily for maintenance and body functions. Additionally 100 g of crude protein is needed for one litre of milk. Thus, a cow producing 15 litre of milk would need 2250 g of crude protein. Coimbatore based T.N. Agricultural University have developed a BajraNapier grass hybrid (CO-5) which would meet the daily maintenance requirements of an adult cow. Farmers can formulate their own least cost concentrate mixture from locally available de-oiled cake, brans and cereals to reduce cost of feeding. Savings made shall lead to additional income. Milk producers should be made aware of the potential to lower cost of milk production to generate extra income. There is a need to employ selective mechanization technologies such as drip irrigation or use of rain guns to lower down water consumption for fodder production. Self formulated mineral mixtures would further reduce the cost of milk production.

Diversification in High Value Commodities
Increasing urbanization and sustained economic growth are leading to demand for high-value foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products, eggs, meat and fish. Marginal and small farmers in J&K and Himachal Pradesh obtain 23 times higher return than that of traditional farming system by cultivating fruits and vegetables taking advantage of prevailing agroclimatic conditions. Mushrooms and Kinnow farming have picked up well in northern states. Inland fish farming in Maharashtra villages is reported to earn huge profits for the farmers. Diversification process must be supported with cold chains, cooperative marketing, strong infrastructure and logistics. There exists considerable yield gap in coarse cereals and pulses which would be bridged by creating new irrigation facilities and access to new technologies. Farmers should be provided with abundant credit flow at low interest rates.

In dairy processing sector also, the profitability of the dairies can be increased by value addition and launching new dairy products. The dairy plants can afford to pay higher milk prices to farmers only if their profit margin is enhanced. Infrastructural and processing facilities should be created to increase the milk handling capacity of the organized sector to at least 50% of total milk production, which is at present hovering around 30% only.

Doubling farmer’s income by 2022 is quite challenging. Three pronged strategy should be focused on (i) agricultural development initiatives, (ii) adoption of new technology and best farm practices and (iii) policy reforms in agriculture at state level. R&D institutions should develop appropriate farming systems and make technological breakthroughs using profitable production methods and raising input efficiency. They should also include in their developmental programmes, grassroot level innovations and traditional practices which are resilient, sustainable and income generating. Promotion of farmer producers’ organizations is a significant move to consolidate small sized production units especially those keeping few animals to increase their bargaining strength in the market by collective action and pooling resources. There is a need to involve state agencies in establishing and nurturing farmer producer companies in the country to help landless and marginal farmers to raise incomes.

Huge growth opportunities in dairying exist for aggregating 70 per cent of the marketable surplus milk for processing and value addition for enhancing the income of the milk producers and making milk production as a main occupation. Government should strengthen the web of processing industries and make provisions in the new budget for production of exportable products.

Emphasizing the Government of India’s initiatives to double the farmer’s income by 2022, the theme of 47th Dairy Industries Conference of IDA is chosen as “Innovative Approach for Enhancing Dairy Farmers’ Income”. The Conference, which is going to be held at Samrat Ashok Convention Kendra in Patna during 7-9th February, 2019; will be attended by about 2000 delegates to provide a platform for interaction and sharing of experiences among professionals, experts, scientists, industrialists, policy makers and farmers from diverse corners of India and abroad. Invited speakers have been requested to make detailed presentations on the above issues and make suitable recommendations for doubling the farmer’s income. Dairymen are invited to participate at this Conference to reap rich dividends.