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Sunday, May 09, 2021

Direct MSP transfers begin, Punjab farmers ring in the new

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) recently asked the Punjab government to provide the land records of farmers in order to transfer MSP payments.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Jalandhar |
Updated: April 17, 2021 7:40:25 am
Direct MSP transfers begin, Punjab farmers ring in the newAt a grain market in Patiala on Friday. (Express Photo by Harmeet Sodhi)

Dalip Kumar (39), of Nilpur village near Rajpura, says he is the happiest he’s ever been in his 15 years spent as a farmer. The reason: two text messages that he has got on his phone, announcing the credit of Rs 1.90 lakh and Rs 1.48 lakh into his bank account as the minimum support price (MSP) of 171 quintals of wheat that he sold in Rajpura mandi.

Dalip took the produce of around 10 acres of his land to the mandi. He farms 40 acres, and will take the remaining wheat for procurement in the coming days. At the MSP of Rs 1,975 per quintal, he said this would be the first time he would get his hands on such a large sum in one go.

“This is the best system. What could be better than getting payment for our crop in our account?” Dalip told The Indian Express. “Earlier, arhtiyas gave us a cheque. After we took our crop to the mandi, everything was in the hands of the agent. The final settlement of accounts took time, as the arhtiya always found an excuse to defer the payment even after the farmer had repaid any debts he might have had.”

Dalip is one of the first three Punjab farmers to receive the payment of wheat MSP directly into his account. Pushed by the Centre, the state government has implemented the system of direct payment for the first time in the face of stiff opposition from the politically and financially powerful arhtiya associations.

Tarlochan Singh (49) of Bhurara village in Chamkaur Sahib of Ropar district, has received Rs 1.56 lakh in his account for the produce of 3 out of his 12 acres of land under wheat.

He said he has been farming for more than two decades, and was happy with the new system — and that it would not affect his relation with the arhtiyas.

Gulzar Singh (50), from a village in Ludhiana, said he had harvested wheat on 20 out of his 25 acres and sold it at the Khanna mandi, one of the biggest in the region.

“I have received some amount in my bank but I am not educated… Only when my son comes tomorrow will I get to know the exact amount,” he said.

Gulzar said he was very happy with the system, but was worried about how it might work for the 23 acres of land he has taken on lease. “If the government asks for the land records, I will not be able to provide them because my landlord is in the US,” he said.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) recently asked the Punjab government to provide the land records of farmers in order to transfer MSP payments. After the government said that about half the farmers were cultivators and not owners of the land, the Centre had suggested that Punjab should adopt a model similar to Haryana’s which was providing details of cultivators for the payment of MSP. For now, payments are being made on the basis of Aadhaar and the quantity of crop being brought to the mandis.

Ravi Bhagat, Director, Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, said that following testing and trials, a large number of farmers had started to get MSP payments in their bank accounts.

Farmer leader Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, said the new system marks a big day in the life of the farmer — he has, for the first time, got the price of his crop in hand without having to depend on others.

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