The number of registration of farmers for procuring their groundnut at the minimum support price (MSP) shot up to around 50,000 on Friday as the registration process picked up pace following village computer entrepreneur (VCEs) resuming their work in a few districts while in others talati-cum-mantris (TCMs) were pressed into the service.
According to data shared by the Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (GSCSCL), registration process of 49,353 farmers was completed by 5:30 pm on Friday. This is more than double the figure of 19,780 registrations done on the opening day on Thursday. Rajkot district is leading the chart with registration of 12,730 farmers, followed by Gir Somnath (10,488), Sabarkantha (7,368), Morbi, (6,328), Devbhumi Dwarka (3,387), and Junagadh (2,665). Most of these registrations were done on Friday. However, in Jamnagar, a major groundnut producing district in Saurashtra, only 875 farmers were able to register themselves till Friday evening.
“After the strike by the VCEs, we sought permission from the government to assign to talatis the job of registering farmers who want to sell their groundnut to the government and after we got it, we also checked if the system works. After we found that it works, we issued instructions that talatis take over this job wherever VCEs are still on strike. While a number of VCEs have resumed their work, I don’t have any formal word if they officially ended their strike. However, our taluka development officers and mamlatdars are in touch with them,” Rajkot district development officer (DDO) and in charge collector of Rajkot district, Anil Ranavasiya said.
VCEs are the persons with computer proficiency and engaged by village panchayats. They help people fill up forms and do registration for availing benefits of government schemes online. The government pays them commission for every form filed on its digital platforms. The government has fixed Rs 10 as their commission for registering a farmer who wants to sell his groundnut at MSP. But VCEs had gone on an indefinite strike in the state demanding they be given salary instead of commission and insurance in times of Covid-19 pandemic just like government employees have been given.
In Jamnagar, the VCEs are still on strike and the process has also been affected due to some officers having contracted Covid-19. “Registration process is very slow, especially in Jodiya and Jamjodhpur talukas, as the VCES are on strike. The situation has been made worse by death of a deputy mamlatdar in Jodiya and the mamlatdar of Jamjodhpur also contracting the infection and proceeding on leave. But we are in the process of mobilising staff from other departments and also using facilities at industrial training institutes for doing registration. Arrangements will be in place over the next couple of days,” Jamnagar collector Ravi Shankar said.
Last year, 4.71 lakh farmers had registered for selling their groundnut to government at MSP. The government had procured around five lakh tonnes of groundnut at MSP of Rs5090 per quintal from farmers in Gujarat last year. This year, the Central government has increased the MSP of the oilseed, to Rs5275 per quintal. Gujarat is the largest producer of groundnut in the country and accounts for more than half of total production in India.
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