India Today

Problem of Plenty | Agriculture

The claimed agrarian reforms sound impressive as does the ad blitz announcing them, but the distress of the landless and marginal farmers is real and extreme. Will this apparent dissonance cost Modi?

No other government in India's recent history claims to have done so much for agriculture as the Narendra Modi-led NDA government. From doubling farm incomes by 2022, renaming the ministry of agriculture the agriculture and farmers' welfare ministry, transferring Rs 6,000 per year directly into the bank accounts of small and marginal farmers, guaranteeing Minimum Support Price (MSP) with 50 per cent additional payment, issuing soil health cards, setting up eNAMs and GrAMs to revamping 99 big incomplete canal irrigation projects, the list of agricultural reforms the NDA government purports to have undertaken is long. Simultaneously, there has been record farm production of cereals, vegetables, fruits, milk and fish. Yet, the rural countryside is afflic­ted with economic distress, the rate of unemployment is high and cases of farmers' suicides continue to rise. What explains this gap between promise and perfor­mance?

Consider the following data. Despite the promise of doubling farm incomes by 2022, the agricultural growth rate-at an average of 2.9

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