Amidst the anti-farm law agitation in Punjab, the Modi government has procured 18.24 lac tonnes of wheat from the State at the Minimum Support Price (MSP) till April 15.
As per reports, the Centre has transferred a total of ₹13.71 crores to the account of farmers in Punjab through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) at MSP (Rs 1,975 per quintal). It must be mentioned that despite all efforts of the Modi government since 2018, Punjab sought exemption from DBT implementation in the State. As such, this is the first time that farmers have received the payment for their produce (at MSP) in Punjab directly into the accounts.
While speaking about the development, Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey said, “We are transferring MSP directly to the farmers’ accounts in Punjab, which has been possible with the cooperation of the state government and arhtiyas…With Punjab and Haryana on board, the entire country is now covered under ‘One nation, one MSP, one DBT’ theme.” He also added that arthiyas will also get their commission directly in their account.
Reportedly, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will procure a whopping 130 lac tonnes of wheat from Punjab. Till now, around 81.64 lac tonnes of wheat has been procured as compared to the total target of 437.36 lac tonnes this year. As of now, payments are being made to farmers through DBT on the basis of the Aadhar cards and the quantity of crops brought by them to the Mandis.
Success stories of DBT of payments to farmers
Initially, FCI had asked the Punjab govt to hand over land records for payment transfer. However, since many farmers work as cultivators and don’t own their land, the Centre has suggested providing details of cultivators (as is the case in Haryana). Given that the Punjab government gave in to the demands of the Centre to eliminate the middlemen, it received stiff opposition from the arhtiyas.
Interestingly, farmer leader Jagmohan Singh, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) Dakaunda, said the DBT system marks a big day. He further said that for the first time, he got the price of his crop in hand without having to depend on others.
While speaking about the matter, a 39-year-old farmer named Dalip Kumar said that he has been the happiest since he started farming 15 years ago. He had received ₹1.90 lac and ₹1.48 lac directly into his bank account for 171 quintals of wheat sold at the Rajpura mandi. Dalip Kumar cultivates on 40 acres of land and has sold wheat that was cultivated on 10 acres of land until now. He said that this was the first time he received such a large payment at once.
“This is the best system. What could be better than getting paid for our crop in our account? 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,” the farmer recounted.
Similarly, 49-year-old Tarlochan Singh from Bankura village in Ropar district received ₹1.56 lacs for selling wheat produced on 3 acres of land. He supported the news system and said it would not sour his relation with the commission agent.