Written By Jai Prakash Dalal
Haryana has always been at the forefront of pioneering models of governance and implementing them. Our chief minister, Manohar Lal, has always stressed the importance of reaching every policy’s full benefit to the targeted beneficiary. Under his leadership, the state government has documented and digitised all farmer families through the Parivar Pehechan Patra, which ensures that the payment towards crop procurement directly reaches the state’s farmers. Doubling farmers income is the stated goal set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Our pioneering system of direct farmer payments is the very core of making his vision work at the ground level.
What has made direct benefit transfer (DBT) for farmers possible is the successful digitisation of agricultural land records and linking them with the digital identity and bank accounts of individual farmers. The digitised agricultural land record also gives the detail of the crop planted in each season. Now, every farmer registers on “Meri Fasal Mera Beyora” to sell his produce in the mandis. All these details are automatically linked and cross verified through a seamless process.
This has helped reduce not just the waiting time for selling the produce but, more importantly, cut the total time for giving payments to farmers, after issuing the “I-form”, to under 72 hours. This is a great improvement from the past when it took weeks for the farmer to receive payment from the arhatiya. More importantly, the relationship between the farmer (seller) and the government (buyer) could not be formally established. Now it formally exists on a digital channel.
If there is any delay in the payment of this money to farmers, the state government is paying 9 per cent interest on the delayed time. There are 10,769 farmers whose payments have been delayed by one day. The state government has paid Rs 7,80,000 as interest to these farmers. It is not just the farmers who benefit from the direct payment, even the arhatiya commission is being paid directly into his account without delay. This is expected to improve the cash flow of the arhatiya.
Haryana is expecting around 80 lakh metric tonne of wheat in this rabi season — more than 60 lakh tonne has already arrived in the mandis. Out of this, 53 lakh metric tonne has been procured, and 30 lakh metric tonne lifted by the Food Corporation of India. So far 6,82,862 J-forms of 1,88,891 farmers have been created and until April 20, a total of Rs 2,785 crore has been paid directly into the farmers’ accounts. Such quick reimbursement has never happened before, which has convinced Haryana’s farmers about the government’s commitment towards improving their welfare.
Besides the digitisation of the identity and registration of farmers, the responsibility of procuring this season’s rabi crop has been given to the deputy commissioner in each district. As a result, the whole process is being conducted at the ground level in a far more efficient manner than ever before. I have been visiting a couple of mandis every day since the rabi procurement season started on April 1 and I can assure that this season will see the fastest crop procurement-to-payment in the history of India.
Due to the delegation of the procurement to the DC in a district, the scheduling and logistics of entry, weighing, bagging and lifting of the grain to the godown is also going on smoothly. The farmer no longer has to wait for weeks at the mandis to get his crop weighed and bagged. Now the mandis are no longer crowded or overwhelmed with the crop. The crop is being quickly lifted and transported as soon as it is bagged. This is a massive operation involving thousands of trucks and several thousand people. With the DC at the helm, it is progressing smoothly across Haryana.
These improvements will drastically raise farmers’ incomes. The digitisation of procurement payments will give us the data to understand the problems relating to farmers’ land-holding, land productivity and actual incomes at a granular level. The problem is not the same everywhere — in agriculture one-size-fits-all does not work. Our system will allow us to customise our proposed solutions to fit the unique needs of every individual farmer.
An important component of the Mera Fasal Mera Beyora portal is the data on the productivity of each farmer’s land. This is the most crucial part of the problem. Until now our agricultural scientists were suggesting generic solutions to each farmer such as “add more manure” or “do drip irrigation”. The productivity data for each crop can be analysed, and customised solutions can be provided to each farmer. This will help us double farmers’ incomes in a few years.
The writer is the minister for agriculture and farm welfare in Haryana