He was addressing an international forum on “Role of Rural and Agricultural Finance to Achieve Sustainable Development Goals”, jointly organised by NABARD and Asia Pacific Rural and Agricultural Credit Association (APRACA).
In this context, Jaitley highlighted that India had already taken up the challenge of doubling farmers’ incomes by 2022.
“We have fairly ambitious plans in India and within the limits of our affordability, we have taken the challenge of in the first instance trying to improve our rural infrastructure and at the same time ensure that our farmers get their due prices”, he said.
Jaitley said that it was important for every society to on one hand provide food at affordable cost to its people and on the other hand match the apparent contradiction of also ensuring that farmers get their dues.
He said that the Centre had been creating different instrumentalities to support agricultural activities in India including low-cost credit, crop insurance, rural connectivity and massive sanitation programmes targeted at rural India.
Stating that the agriculture communities world over are “vulnerable”, Jaitley noted that countries — with different level of affordability — around the world have discovered different methods to support their farm sectors.
Highly developed countries have been directly providing different forms of subsidies in the name of environment protection or livestock protection so that monies flow into the pockets of farmers, Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister said that countries that don’t have the level of affordability similar to the developed ones still have to struggle with the challenge that sustenance level is maintained (for farmers).
Jaitley highlighted that agriculture in India is faced with increased cost of inputs and that increases the challenge of right prices in the market. “How does then one support agriculture?”, he wondered.
Harsh Kumar Bhanwala, Chairman, NABARD, said that lot of initiatives have been taken by the Government over the last three-and-half years to support the farming community.
The narrative has moved from “subsistence” to “sustainability” to “aspiration levels”, said Bhanwala.
“We are no longer talking about subsistence. We are now focused on enhancing farmers income”, he said.
Later, Bhanwala told BusinessLine that doubling farmers’ income on a pan-India basis by 2022 is “doable”, although seen as a daunting task by many experts and economy watchers.
Source: Hindu Business Line