• Between 2010-11, area under cultivation, agricultural production remained constant; but agricultural income exceeded GDP by nearly 20 times.
  • Hardly 2% of Income Tax Assessees in India declare agricultural income, yet the amount runs in trillions of rupees (INR).

No Capital Gains Tax

Agricultural Land in India is not a Capital Asset. That may defy common sense but that is true. Dictionary meaning of capital assets is ‘long-term assets either tangible or intangible (as land, buildings, patents, or franchises)’. A capital asset is any asset held/ having economic/ useful life for more than 12 months. But in India Agricultural land is not considered as “Capital Asset”. Hence there is no Capital Gains tax on sale of agricultural land. Even if there is forced/compulsory acquisition of land by Government, say for highway expansion, railway track, etc.,  the compensation received for such acquisition is tax free.

No Income Tax

Agricultural income is exempt from Income tax under Section 2 1a of Income Tax Act. Therefore,

  • Rent derived from land which is situated in India and is used for agricultural purposes is exempt.
  • Income derived from land by agricultural operations including processing of agricultural produce is exempt.


All kind of subsidies are provided to agriculture. Some of the component/schemes through which the Government provides subsidies to farmers are as follows:

  1. Seeds

            The Department is implementing Sub-Mission on Seeds & Planting Materials (SMSP) from the year 2014-15 to promote production and multiplication of quality seeds of agricultural crops, so that the required quantities of seeds could be made available to farmers in the country. To upgrade the quality of farmers’ saved seeds, financial assistance for distribution of foundation/certified seeds at 50% cost of the seeds for cereal crops and 60% for pulses, oilseeds, fodder and green manure crops for production of quality seeds is available /provided for one acre per farmer under the component Seed Village Programme of SMSP. The objective of this scheme is to make available improved /high yielding varieties of seeds to farmers in time and to achieve self-sufficiency in respect of seeds at village level itself. The above scheme/ component is demand driven and implemented by the concerned State/implementing agencies for welfare of all the categories of farmers which help in enhancing productivity/production of various crops and also improving profitability of the agriculture sector (farmers’ income) in the country.

(ii)     Mechanization & Technology

(A)    A Sub Mission on Agricultural Mechanization (SMAM) is being implemented w.e.f. 2014-15.  The SMAM  provides a suitable platform for converging all activities for inclusive growth  of agricultural mechanization by providing a  ‘single window’ approach for implementation with a special focus on small & marginal farmers with the following objectives: –

 (1)   Increasing the reach of farm mechanization to small and marginal farmers and to regions        where availability of farm power is low;

(2)   Promoting ‘Custom Hiring Centres ’to offset the adverse economies of scale arising due to    small landholding and high cost of individual ownership;

(3)    Creating hubs for hi-tech & high value farm equipments;

 (4)  Creating awareness among stakeholders through demonstration and capacity building   activities;

(B)   A special Scheme to support the efforts of the Governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address air pollution due to stubble burning and to subsidize machinery for farmers for in-situ management of crop residue, a new Central Sector Scheme on ‘Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization for In-Situ Management of Crop Residue’ in the States of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and NCT of Delhi for the period from 2018-19 to 2019-20 has been launched.

(iii) Irrigation

There are three components of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

            i.          PMKSY(Har Khet Ko Pani)

            ii.         PMKSY (Watershed) and

            iii.        PMKSY (Per Drop More Crop)

Subsidy component is only admissible for PMKSY (Per Drop More Crop). PMKSY (Per Drop More Crop): DAC&FW is implementing Per Drop More Crop component of PMKSY. The PMKSY- Per Drop More Crop mainly focuses on enhancing water use efficiency at farm level through precision/micro irrigation (Drip and Sprinkler Irrigation).  Besides promoting precision irrigation and better on-farm water management practices to optimize the use of available water resources, this component also supports micro level water storage or water conservation/management activities to supplement Micro Irrigation.

 (iv) Godowns

To promote creation of scientific storage capacity for storing farm produce, processed farm produce and agricultural    inputs etc.,    to reduce post-harvest    &  handling losses, promote pledge financing and market access including marketing infrastructure (other than storage), the DAC&FW is implementing a capital subsidy sub-scheme “Agricultural Marketing Infrastructure (AMI)” of Integrated Scheme for Agricultural Marketing (ISAM) across the country.

AMI is a demand driven, credit linked, back ended subsidy scheme and no State/beneficiary-wise allocation has been made under the scheme. Beneficiaries viz, farmers, Agri-preneurs, FPOs, Individuals, Cooperatives, and state agencies etc. are eligible for assistance. Under the scheme, the subsidy @ 25% for plain areas and 33.33% for NER, hilly area, Women/SC/ST promoters & FPOs etc is available.

(v)    Fertiliser

Urea is being provided to farmers at a statutory notified Maximum Retail Price (MRP). The MRP of a 45 kg bag of Urea is Rs.242 per bag (exclusive of charges towards neem-coating and taxes as applicable) and the MRP of a 50 kg bag of Urea is Rs.268 per bag (exclusive of charges towards neem coating and taxes as applicable). The difference between the delivered cost of Fertilizers at farm gate and net market realization by the urea units is given as subsidy to the Urea manufacture/importer by the Govt. of India. Accordingly, all farmers are getting Urea at affordable subsidized price. With respect to Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers, the D/o Fertilizers is providing subsidy on P&K Fertilizers. Further, as far as P&K is concerned, the Government has implemented Nutrient Based Subsidy Policy w.e.f. 1.4.2010 for Phosphatic and Potassic (P&K) Fertilizers.  Under the policy, a fixed amount of subsidy, decided on an annual basis, is provided on subsidised P&K fertilizers depending on their nutrient content. Under this policy, MRP is fixed by fertilizer companies as per market dynamics at reasonable level which is monitored by the Government. Accordingly, any farmer including a poor and marginal farmer who is buying these fertilizers is getting benefits of subsidy.

Subsidies to the farmers are also given as part of various other schemes such as National Food Security Mission (NFSM), Mission for Integrated Development of Horticulture (MIDH), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) and Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana (PKVY) etc for the benefits of the farmers.

Most of the schemes are targeted to benefit the small and marginal farmers, the classification of which is based on the size of their land holding. Keeping in view of the objectives of various schemes, which offer subsidies to farmers, periodic review of the same is an ongoing activity and whenever any change/modification is required in the scheme(s) for the overall benefit of the farmers, the same is carried out.” (Source: https://pib.gov.in/PressReleaseIframePage.aspx?PRID=1607343)

Safe- Haven for Money Laundering

Amit Retharekar, an experienced banker and anti- money laundering expert wrote ‘Sowing tainted money in Indian Agriculture Sector’ describing how Indian agriculture sector is the safe- haven for money laundering and tainted money.

How it works, he wrote,

“Imagine this, if I am a politician whose taken kickbacks for sanctioning projects, such cash is very easy for me to route declaring it as agricultural income. All I need is, purchasing agricultural land by legal income, getting the land registered under my name paying stamp duty and cultivating some crops just to make it appear genuine. So, 2 crop seasons in a span of a year and the cash is easily routed to my bank account. I ensure that I pass this cash in Co-op banking institutions, where systems are weak, controls are poor; I just need a parking account anyway. Gradually, I transfer these amounts to my “hi-fi banks” through cheque or RTGS just below threshold limits, devoid of suspicion. Once done, one fine day I transfer the amount out of India, purchasing a yacht perhaps for my beach facing villa. Bravo! I declare it as agricultural income, pay taxes on my other incomes. Effectively, I have sown tainted cash in my farm and cultivated legal income. Placement-Layering-Integration.” All the three steps of money laundering well accomplished.

Current Indian Farmers’ Protest: Nothing to add. Your sources are as good as mine.

DISCLAIMER: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The author carries the responsibility for citing and/or licensing of images utilized within the text.