FCI To Bypass Arhtiyas In Punjab, Seeks Land Records Of Farmers From State Govt To Enable Direct MSP Transfer

FCI To Bypass Arhtiyas In Punjab, Seeks Land Records Of Farmers From State Govt To Enable Direct MSP TransferA wheat crop (/AFP/Getty Images)

In a bid to enable directl transfer payment of Minimum Support Price (MSP) to the bank accounts of the farmers, the Food Corporation of India (FCI)'s Punjab office has sought land records of farmers from the state government.

The FCI intends to make direct online payment of MSP to farmers from the upcoming Rabi marketing season (RMS) onwards and has therefore written to the state's Director of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, stating that land records are a must for wheat procurement in RMS 2021-22.

The letter dated 4 March by FCI's Noida based Zonal Office (N) has asked for the land records to be updated on the Annaj Khardi Portal before the commencement of the RMS 2021-22 to avoid complications, reports Indian Express.

"It is requested to share data of land records and convey to the office where to find it so that FCI shall verify land records of farmers during RMS 2021-22 with regard to FCI’s own purchase," the letter was quoted in the report.

It should be noted that at present, the payments made by the government are received by commission agents (arhatiyas) in their bank accounts, which, they, thereafter pay to the farmers. Of the sum paid, 2.5 per cent is taken away by these agents for facilitating the procurment process between the farmers and the government.

This gains significance as the annual total amount of commission paid by the government for procurement of wheat and paddy alone amounts to around Rs 1,400 crore.

The move to directly transfer the payments to the bank accounts of the farmers by bypassing the agents will thus lead to significant savings and also help plug leakages.

The FCI's decision, though, has invited opposition from the Arhtiya Association of Punjab which has already filed a petition in court against it.

Also, the development comes at a time when the government's farm reforms push to achieve doubling of farmers' income has been met with fierce opposition in Punjab.

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