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Procurement slows down at region’s biggest mandi as arhtiyas grapple with DBT portal

At the Khanna grain market, there were countless farmers who waited in a state of confusion as arhtiyas and their munims struggled with updating farmers’ details on government’s Anaaj Kharid portal to generate the OTP required to kickstart the auction process.

Written by Anju Agnihotri Chaba | Khanna |
Updated: April 14, 2021 11:17:20 am
Khanna Arhtiya Association President Harbans Singh Rosha (third from right) with farmers

Farmer Gurdev Singh Khatkar (71) from Fatehgarh Sahib’s village Lallon Khurd had reached the Khanna grain market, the region’s biggest, with 400 quintals of harvested wheat on Sunday. Two days later on Tuesday, he waited with no clarity on when his crop will be auctioned. Not far away, Munim (accountant) Gurmit Singh, who has been in the profession for past 25 years, was busy attending a “class” about operating the government portal and complete registrations for the DBT scheme.

At the Khanna grain market, there were countless other farmers like Gurdev who waited in a state of confusion as arhtiyas and their munims struggled with updating farmers’ details on government’s Anaaj Kharid portal to generate the OTP required to kickstart the auction process.

Majority of arhtiyas inside the mandi said that they now planned to hire a computer along with an operator as they neither have computers nor accountants trained to run them.

Both farmers and the arhtiyas blamed the new DBT system for the chaos.

Gurdev Singh Khatkar

In the earlier system, record of farmers’ crop was maintained manually in a ‘Boli’ register and then From J (sale invoice of the crop) and Form ‘I’ (carrying details of payment amount to farmers) were also filled manually. This was followed by arhtiyas presenting the bill to the government, with the next step being the amount getting transferred to them (arhtiyas’ accounts) to be further transferred to farmers through cheques. But the DBT system requires details — farmers’ name, mobile number, address, bank account number, a cancelled cheque, approximate weight of the crop for procurement — being added to the Anaaj Kharid portal.

Further, the wheat variety, name of the purchase agency, the pass number for entry in the mandi are required to be mentioned online on the portal to generate an OTP on the farmers’ mobile that is added by the arhtiyas on the portal to finish the registration process. It is only after all this that auction of crop can take place and final weight of the crop added to the portal after it has been bagged and weighed.

Farmer Gurjeet Singh Rajewal (40) from the village Rajewal, who was sitting next to Gurdev Singh, said that he too brought his crop late to the mandi because of the slow process of the registration on the portal.

Gurjeet Singh Rajewal

Farmers Sukhjeet Singh from village Saluadi Singha with 200 quintals of wheat and farmer Hardeep Singh of village Shehazadpur with 300 quintals of the crop too have been sitting inside the mandi for the past two days. Both of them, however, were relieved as their registration process finally got completed on Tuesday.

Munim Gurmeet Singh (45), meanwhile, said that he spent an hour over a phone call organised by the government purchase agencies in which he was taught about downloading of the App to upload the farmers’ details on the portal for the direct transfer of the MSP.

“Around 60 farmers are associated with my arhtiya and today 6 farmers have brought the crop to the mandi and now he has to register them on the portal so that auction of their crops could be done tomorrow,” he said.

Gurdev pointed out that earlier when farmers used to come to mandi with crops they used to get the auction done on the same day and entire details would then be mentioned in Form ‘J’ and Form ‘I’. But now every arhtiya, who may have around 20 to 200 farmers associated with him, has to register these farmers on the portal for direct payment.

“But now technology is coming in the way of farmers and arhtiyas. Majority of munims in the state mandis have not even studied till Class 10, and have no knowledge of computers and uploading farmers details has become a herculean task for them. So, delay in uploading the details is forcing farmers to keep on waiting in the mandis,” said another Munim Gurdeep Singh, who is a graduate and knows how to operate a computer.

Munim Balwinder Singh (58) said: “For me computer is an alien device as in my career, I have never used it and now I am worried that my arhtiya would hire a new munim and I will not be able to feed my family of six members.” He added 70 to 80 per cent munim were like him in Khanna Mandi.

Munim Sanjiv Kumar, who works at the office of the largest arhtiya of mandi, Ajmer Singh, was also surrounded by 50 farmers who were asking him to register them first as they were waiting in the mandi for the past two days to get their crop auctioned.

Khanna Arhtiya Association President Harbans Singh Rosha said that there are around 300 arhtiyas in Khanna and surrounding mandis, but 90 per cent of them do not have computers and now they have either to hire some computer with operators from outside or have to purchase new computers first to register the farmers which will delay the procurement process for at least some days.

He said that this work should have been done by the government from April 1 to April 9 before beginning the procurement from April 10. “Today, a class was organised for the munims. But what will they learn in a single day and also when procurement has already started in a big way in the state,” he added.

Arhtiya Jagdeep Singh said that under the direct payment system, government has been giving entire MSP to the farmers and they are doubtful that now farmers will pay them even labour charges, which are Rs 12.12 paisa per quintal and are borne by farmers for unloading and cleaning of the crop.

“Apart from this, the portal needs modification as there is no option to enter the quantity in kgs as the crop is to be mentioned in the quintals. But it is filled in gunny bags of 50 kg each and if a farmer’s crop is 100 quintal and 45 kg then arhtiyas are asking the farmer to take the crop back,” said farmer Hardeep Singh.

“Also there is shortage of vardana (gunny bags) in the mandi, which is also adding to the farmers’ waiting time,” said farmer Sukhjeet Singh.

Vijay Kalra president of the Federation of Arhtiya Association of Punjab, said: “These are teething problems and will be resolved as every new system has new things to learn and we will learn soon.”

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