Doubling farmers’ income

In February 2016, ahead of the budget for the year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared in a video message that his government would ensure that farmers’ income doubled by 2022.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s 2019 election manifesto reiterated that it would “make all efforts to achieve this goal by 2022”, and listed several measures, ranging from cash transfer schemes to institutional reforms.

Five years later, data suggests the promise remains unfulfilled. The growth in farmers’ incomes has slowed down under the Modi government.


A government committee set up in 2016 to lay out a roadmap to achieve the target used the 2012-’13 National Sample Survey Office data to estimate that the national average annual income of Indian farmers was Rs 96,703 in 2015-’16.

Based on this, the committee set the targeted double income at Rs 192,694 (at 2015-’16 constant prices) or Rs 271,378 at current prices in 2022-’23.

To achieve those levels of income, farm income would have to grow annually by 10.4% over the next seven years, the committee calculated.


While data for 2022-’23 is not available, according to the last situational survey data released in 2021, the average annual income of farming households increased from Rs 96,703 in 2015-’16 to Rs 1,22,616 in 2018-’19.

This suggests the annual growth in farmers’ income has been mere 2.8% – less than over 3% growth between 2002-’03 and 2012-’13, the decade that roughly corresponds to the tenure of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.

Notably, even this growth has been driven by non-farm income since the income from crop cultivation declined by 1.5% annually in the period since 2015-’16.


Despite the slowdown in farmers’ income, India’s farm sector has grown by 3.8% in the past decade, marginally higher than the 3.5% growth seen in the previous decade when the Congress-led coalition was in power.

Responding to a query on the progress of the quest to double farmers’ income, Union agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar said in December 2023 that since agriculture was a state subject, “state governments take appropriate measures for development of agriculture and welfare of farmers in the state”.

The Union government, the minister said, “supplements the efforts of states through appropriate policy measures and budgetary support and various schemes/ programmes”.


Minimum support price

In the 2018-’19 budget, the Modi government adopted the National Commission on Farmers’ recommendation that the minimum support price for crops “should be at least 50 percent more than the weighted average cost of production”.

The agriculture minister told Parliament in December 2022 that this had been adhered to.

However, government data shows minimum support prices have increased at a lower rate in the past decade compared to the tenure of the Congress-led coalition.

Farm schemes

The Modi government’s flagship scheme in the farm sector has been the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi scheme, better known as PM Kisan. Launched in 2019, the cash transfer scheme currently accounts for almost half of the Central budget for the sector.


The scheme, however, has benefited 11 crore farmers since its inception, according to data furnished by the government in Parliament in December 2023.

However, landless farmers who account for at least 55% of India’s agricultural workforce do not come under its purview.

Farm laws

In 2020, the Modi government passed three laws that it claimed would unshackle India’s agricultural trade by enabling farmers to sell their produce to private companies without any restrictions.

Farmers from northern India, however, saw it as a design to corporatise the sector and rose in protest, forcing the government to roll back the laws in 2021.

Read more: A decade under Modi