The government agencies in the two states have hurried the registration of bank accounts of farmers following the directions of the Union ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution.
“More than 40 per cent accounts of farmers have already been registered,” a senior official of Punjab Food Civil Supplies & Consumers Affairs Department said. The official maintained that the most of the commission agents or arhtiya are cooperating in the process by providing details of farmers and their bank accounts.
In Haryana, the concerned government agencies have been asked to complete the registration of farmers’ bank accounts by the month of February. “The instructions are clear to complete the registration in month of February,” an official of Haryana State Agricultural Marketing Board said. He said that two-meetings have been held with arhtiyas and the matter is likely to be resolved soon.
The Union Ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution in August, 2019 had asked the states to pay directly into accounts of farmers though public finance management system (PFMS).
Despite the political furore over supplementing the farm income, the state governments in the past have been reluctant to offend the strong lobby of arhtiyas by circumventing them. Arhtiyas are known to hold sway over farmers as they extend advance payments to growers. The agents are known to charge exorbitant interest rate from farmers sans little paperwork for advance payments.
“The income of crop reaches farmer after the respective commission agent had deducted advance amount and hefty interest extended to the grower,” a farmer activist said.
As per Punjab APMC Act, the middlemen-arhtiya or commission agent-is entitled to 2.5 per cent of Minimum Support Price for procurement of paddy and wheat. “The commission agents will get their 2.5 per cent commission but the payments of crop will go into accounts of farmers,” an official of Punjab government said.
He said that Punjab has lately amended the Agriculture Produce Markets Rules 2020, to facilitate direct payment to the farmers by the government (buyer) in their bank accounts by way of electronic transfer.