BHUBANESWAR: After launching the direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for Odisha farmers in March, the State Government is seriously contemplating to link all schemes in the agriculture sector involving transfer of benefits in cash or kind to DBT platform.
The Agriculture Department is geared up to roll out the DBT scheme to all subsidy linked programmes of the Government including farm mechanisation.
The department is reported to have submitted a proposal to the State Government for extending cash benefit directly to farmers after detecting large-scale diversion of funds during distribution of agricultural input subsidy and selection of farmers for field demonstration of different crops.
The State Government has been providing huge subsidy to farmers for introduction of new varieties of high yielding and hybrid seeds, increase in seed replacement ratio, fertilizer consumption, integrated nutrient and pest management, water management and post harvest management of agri-produce to maximise production and productivity of different crops to enhance their farm income.
However, the subsidy amount is not reaching to many farmers. Particularly, small and marginal farmers have been kept out of the subsidy loop due to administrative deficiency and corrupt practices, said a senior officer of the department.
Admitting that the DBT scheme for purchase of seeds did not evoke desired response, the officer said a massive awareness campaign is needed as farmers are not familiar with the new system. All the farmers need to be registered online and open bank accounts to get the subsidy amount in their bank account directly under the scheme.
As 85 per cent of the rural areas do not have bank branches, the Government faced a big challenge in rolling out the DBT. However, this could be overcome once post offices are allowed to do banking business, sources said.
The Government claimed to have distributed `40 crore agriculture input subsidy to one lakh farmers in the State who suffered crop loss due to drought last year. There is no record to show as to who are the actual beneficiaries.
The Centre has requested all the States to open DBT cells and is closely monitoring the DBT schemes in Odisha, sources in the Finance Department said.
“The State Government is planning to open DBT cell to improve direct benefit transfer to the intended beneficiaries,” said Finance Minister Pradip Amat.