Spotlight Issue: Failure of Budget in Addressing Impacts of Climate Change on Farmers
Indian farmers, the backbone of India’s economy, are going through serious crises. Low income, high level of distress and related suicides among farmers are daily news in the country. The Government of India has released their latest statistics that show that a much worse future awaits the farmers who feed the nation and are guardians of ensuring food security.
The Economic Survey for 2017-2018, a report that the Govt. of India brings out before presenting the annual Budget in the Parliament, has said that climate change will induce a decrease in incomes of farmers of the country by as much as 25% in some parts of the country. It says, “climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15% to 18% on average, and up to 20% to 25% for unirrigated areas.” This is not good news for the farmers who are already suffering from low income and distress and for whom the government has been planning a strategy that would double their income by 2022. Farm income, which stands at an average of roughly 78000 INR (approx. $1,219 USD), is expected to be reduced by up to 25%.
There is also huge income inequality among farmers in India. Statistics point out that the small & medium size land holding farmers, who form about 85% of the total farmers, earn only 9% of the total income of farmers in the country. The rest earn almost 91%. If India really wants to build farmers’ resilience against climate change then it has to focus a lot more on the small farmers who are in the most vulnerable conditions at the moment.
Status: Falling Behind
However, the Union Budget that followed (the Economic Survey), did not mention anything about how to make the farmers ‘climate resilient’. The Government has announced certain schemes for farm development, but they do not go well with the findings of the Economic Survey with regard to climate induced vulnerabilities that the farmers will face. There are a few schemes that the government has announced to help farmers grow their income but they fall too short to make them climate resilient. Climate Scorecard therefore gives this action of the Govt. of India only one Star!
We want you to send messages to the Indian Finance Minister to proposals immediately and make fresh and appropriate budgetary allocation to increase irrigation coverage to cover the small farmers with irrigation schemes that are based around small and medium irrigation systems including tanks, other water harvesting structures, lift irrigation, check dams, etc; support the rain-fed farmers with a strong crop insurance scheme that takes care of not only the complete cost of farming but also ensures a profit above that so that the farmers affected by climate change do not fall into the trap of perennial poverty.
Please address your letters/emails/tweets to:
Shri Arun Jaitley
Finance Minister (FM)
134/North Block, New Delhi
Twitter handle: @finminindia
Shri Simanchala Dash
PS to FM
136-A/North Block, New Delhi