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Explained: Rythu Bandhu, Telangana govt’s DBT scheme for farmers’ assistance

Rythu Bandhu is a scheme under which the state government extends financial support to land-owning farmers at the beginning of the crop season through direct benefit transfer. The total funds disbursed under this scheme is set to touch Rs 50,000 crore soon.

Written by Rahul V Pisharody , Edited by Explained Desk | Hyderabad |
Updated: December 29, 2021 6:55:17 pm
TelanganaAccording to the data available with the agriculture department, 66.56 lakh farmers have been identified who own agriculture lands covering 1.52 crore acres. (File photo)

The total funds disbursed under Rythu Bandhu, Telangana government’s direct benefit transfer scheme for farmers, will soon touch Rs 50,000 crore in the coming days. Since 2018, when the scheme was launched by the state government, the government has been crediting Rs 5000 per acre per season into bank accounts of land-owning farmers ahead of Rabi and Kharif seasons.

On Tuesday, ahead of the ongoing Rabi season, the government started crediting money into the bank accounts of eligible beneficiaries in the state.

Under the Rythu Bandhu scheme, as many as 66.56 lakh farmers identified as beneficiaries, regardless of the extent of land owned by them, would receive financial assistance over the next 10 days.

With this, the state government would have disbursed Rs 50,405.63 crore to farmers under the scheme to date, a major landmark since its inception in May 2018.

What is Rythu Bandhu?

Rythu Bandhu is a scheme under which the state government extends financial support to land-owning farmers at the beginning of the crop season through direct benefit transfer so that they can take care of the initial investment needs and do not fall into a debt trap.

This in turn instills confidence in farmers, enhances productivity and income, and breaks the cycle of rural indebtedness.

Each farmer gets Rs 5,000 per acre per crop season without any ceiling on the number of acres held. So, a farmer who owns two acres of land would receive Rs 20,000 a year, whereas a farmer who owns 10 acres would receive Rs 1 lakh a year from the government. The grant helps them cover the expenses on input requirements such as seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and labour.

How are the funds being disbursed?

According to the data available with the agriculture department, 66.56 lakh farmers have been identified who own agriculture lands covering 1.52 crore acres.

On Tuesday, a sum of Rs 544.55 crore was deposited in the accounts of 18.12 lakh farmers who owned up to one-acre land.

Farmers who owned between 1 and 2 acres would receive the grant on Wednesday. Those who owned between 3 and 4 acres would receive the grant on Thursday. On the last day, all farmers who own 10 acres and above will receive the Rythu Bandhu assistance in their accounts.

How much does it cost the state exchequer?

Since the Kharif season of 2018, the state government has been crediting Rythu Bandhu assistance to farmers. As of date, it has credited Rs 43,036.64 crore into the bank accounts of beneficiaries. This season, the state government will disburse another Rs 7638.99 crore, taking the total sum disbursed so far to over Rs 50,000 crore.

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How does it compare with the PM-KISAN scheme?

The state government has often said that the Centre’s PM-KISAN (Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi) scheme is a “copy” of Rythu Bandhu. The Telangana government further claims that its own scheme is much better than PM-KISAN.

“They say imitation is the best form of flattery. Glad that the farmers of India are going to be helped by “Rythu Bandhu” l, [the] brainchild of our Hon’ble CM KCR Garu. The name may have been changed by NDA Govt, in [the] spirit it remains [a] trimmed version of Rythu Bandhu. Jai Kisan,” Minister KT Rama Rao, who is also the TRS party’s working president, had tweeted on February 1, 2019.

Under PM-KISAN, a land-holding family receives an income support of 6,000 per year in three equal installments.

“Rythu Bandhu is based on anticipated input expenditure for each acre of land and there is no restriction on the number of acres owned by a farmer. PM-KISAN only provides support to the family and not to the farm units,” a senior official told indianexpress.com, adding that a farmer in Telangana now gets the cash assistance all at once ahead of the crop season and not in multiple installments.

But what about landless farmers?

The Rythu Bandhu scheme has also come in from criticism from several quarters, with one of the major ones being that it ignores the plight of landless or tenant farmers.

Farmer bodies have been demanding that the state government should extend the agriculture assistance to tenant farmers as well. They have pointed out that those who work on lands taken on lease from landowners also need government assistance at the beginning of a crop season.

However, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has repeatedly said that the government has no intention to extend the benefit to landless farmers.

A government official said that it is difficult to bring tenant farmers under the ambit of the scheme because of the informal nature of the agreements they enter into.

“How does the government recognize a tenant farmer? In most cases, it is an informal agreement between a land-owning farmer and another person who does not use his land for cultivation. So, the tenant farmers either get the inputs like seeds, fertilizers and pesticides from the landowner on a share-crop agreement basis or bear the expenses on their own. However, since landowners get paid under the Rythu Bandhu scheme, farmers can always negotiate with them.”

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