Amid the rapid spread of COVID-19, Haryana has been at the forefront of the fight against this challenge. At the same time, the wheat supply is in full swing in mandis and all COVID protocols are followed. Haryana has always taken the initiative in pioneering governance models and their implementation. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has always emphasized that the full benefit of each policy must reach the targeted beneficiary.
Under his leadership, the state government documented and digitized the records of all farming families through the revolution Parivar Pehchan Patra, which ensures that payment for the purchase of crops directly reaches farmers in Haryana. Doubling farmers’ incomes is the stated goal of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi; our pioneering system of direct payments to farmers is trying to make its vision a reality on the ground.
Enabling Direct Benefit Shifting (DBT) is Haryana’s successful digitization of agricultural land registers and linking them to the digital identity and bank accounts of individual farmers. The digitized agricultural land register also provides details of the crop planted in each season. From now on, each farmer registers on Meri Fasal Mera Byora sell their products in the mandis; all of these details are automatically linked and verified through a transparent process.
This not only reduced the waiting time to sell the products, but more importantly accelerated the schedule of payments to farmers in less than 72 hours, once they received the “Form I”. This is a significant improvement over when the farmer would get the payment of arhatiyas after weeks. More importantly, previously, the relationship between the farmer (seller) and the government (buyer) could not be formally established. But now it exists formally on a digital channel.
In the event of a delay in payment to farmers, the state government pays interest at the rate of 9 percent. There are around 11,000 farmers whose payments were delayed by one day (after issuing “Form I”); therefore, the state government issued Rs 20 lakh as interest to these farmers. It is not only farmers who benefit from the direct payment; Even the arhatiyas‘the commission is transferred directly to their account without delay. This should improve the cash flow of the arhatiyas and they don’t have to worry about their commission indefinitely.
Haryana was expecting around 80 metric tonnes of lakh wheat this Rabi season; 79 lakh metric tons have already arrived in the mandis, of which 74 lakh metric tons have been purchased as of April 26, and Rs 6,800 crore have been disbursed with the money reaching the farmers’ accounts directly. Such a quick refund has never happened before. This convinced the farmers of Haryana of our government’s commitment to their general well-being. This time, the wheat supply may exceed all expectations and the state could cross 90 lakh metric tonnes by May 15. Last year, 74 lakh metric tons of wheat were purchased by government agencies during the Rabi season, and in 2019 it stood at 87 lakh metric tons.
In addition to digitizing and registering farmers, the responsibility of purchasing this season’s Rabi crop has been assigned to the deputy commissioner of each district. As a result, the whole process is being carried out much more efficiently than ever. I have visited a few mandis every day since Rabi’s supply season started on April 1. I have no doubts this season will see the fastest lead time to payout in Indian history.
Due to the delegation of the supply to the assistant commissioners, the scheduling and logistical problems (entry, weighing, bagging and lifting of the grain and its dispatch to the descent) have been resolved. The farmer no longer has to wait weeks at mandis to weigh and bag their harvest. Now the mandis are not overcrowded or overwhelmed. The crop is quickly lifted and transported as soon as it is bagged. It is a massive operation involving thousands of trucks and several thousand people, with deputy commissioners overseeing the entire operation, across Haryana.
These improvements will significantly increase the income of farmers in the future. Digitizing purchase payments will give us the data to understand issues related to farmers’ land ownership, land productivity and real incomes, at a granular level. The problem is not the same everywhere; in agriculture, the single model does not work. Our system will allow us to customize the solutions offered to meet the unique needs of each farmer.
An important part of the Meri Fasal Mera Byora portal is the data on the productivity of the land of each farmer. This is the most crucial part of the problem. Until now, our agronomists have offered generic solutions, such as “add more manure” or “do drip irrigation”. Productivity data for each crop can be analyzed and specific custom solutions can be provided to each kisan. This will help us achieve our goal of doubling farmers’ incomes within a few years.
Warning:The author is Minister of Agriculture and Farmer Welfare in the Government of Haryana. The opinions expressed are personal.
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