ROURKELA: From Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in distribution of farm inputs and implements to online payment against the paddy procured, tribal-dominated Sundargarh district is successfully heading for digital inclusion of farm sector for a less-cash rural society. But, untrained field staff and unaware farmers pose a challenge for smooth transition to the digital process.
Due to faulty DBT registration by untrained employees of 44 LAMPS (Large and multipurpose cooperative societies), the administration faced difficulties in reimbursing 7,000 farmers against the purchase of seeds in the last kharif crop season. Another hindrance in smooth functioning of digital process in remote rural pockets is power disruption and slow Internet connectivity. But the administration claims to have readied necessary back-up infrastructure to overcome this problem.
With the kharif paddy procurement set to start from December 15 through P-PAS (Paddy-Procurement Automated System) mode in all 17 blocks, the administration claims to have readied necessary infrastructure. The P-PAS mode ensures electronic fund transfer to a farmer’s bank account within seven days.
Stress has also been laid on transparency with integration of ‘Bhulekh’ database of Revenue and Disaster Management Department to ensure authentication of cultivable plots of farmers while registering them.
The administration has set an initial target to procure about 67,000 tonnes of paddy through 112 paddy procurement centres (PPCs). Sources said, the target can be increased upto 1.41 lakh tonnes out of the projected yield of above six lakh tonnes from 2.13 lakh hectares of area under cultivation. Sundargarh Civil Supplies Officer (CSO) Abhiram Pradhan said, about 26,900 farmers have registered online for paddy procurement. Incidentally, the figure seems too less considering the Agriculture Department’s data of about 2.19 lakh farmers in the district.
But the Department’s figure of farmer population is debatable. With a total rural population of about 14.7 lakh in the district, the number of farmers would exceed five lakh, said the sources.
Sundargarh Collector Bhupendra Singh Poonia said, digital inclusion promises enhanced transparency, removal of intermediaries and middlemen, hassle-free and faster payment to bank accounts of farmers.
Meanwhile, Deputy Director, Agriculture, RN Satpathy said 50,157 farmers have registered for DBT and all subsidy reimbursement against purchase of farm inputs and implements in the ongoing rabi season would be made through the DBT mode. The pending DBT payment of `14.45 crore was released, he added.