Hyderabad: After successfully launching round-the-clock free quality power supply to the farm sector, the State government is now contemplating various options to distribute input assistance to farmers as assured by Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao as part of making farmers debt free.
The State government had already announced input assistance of Rs 4,000 per acre per crop to all the farmers starting from the forthcoming rabi. To list out genuine farmers and know the exact area of cultivation, the government had undertaken Intensive Farmer Survey (IFS) in June 2017, land purification, updation and computerisation drive which was completed two days ago.
This exercise helped the Revenue Department know the exact extent of agriculture lands under cultivation after removing lands which were already converted into non-agriculture lands, industrial zones and other usages.
The Agriculture Department also prepared a data bank based on the IFS survey including bank account details, crop cultivation since last three years, usage of fertilizer and production.
According to the IFS data, there are around 45 lakh farmers with clear land title, but the final figure on the exact extent will be known in 2-3 days after completion of the land cleansing drive.
Now, the agriculture and revenue department officials were exploring options with regard to implementing the input assistance scheme.
Initially they wanted to transfer input assistance directly to the bank accounts of farmers, but the Farmers Associations of Coordination Committees (FACCs) felt that if the input assistance was directly credited to the farmers’ accounts, there was a possibility that bankers may adjust the amount against previous loans availed by them.
Based on this, the officials were looking at alternatives. “After receiving inputs from the ground level organisations and officials, were are studying various options,” Agriculture Secretary C Partha Sarathi said.
As a step in this direction, officials were now planning to distribute pre-loaded cards and demand drafts (DDs) in the name of farmers. “Pre-loaded cards will make it easy for ryots to get seeds, fertilizers and other material required as they just need to swipe the cards,” said a senior official from the Agriculture Department. The other options being considered were distributing DDs before the commencement of every crop season by using the services of FACCs.
However, though the department welcomed giving cheques to farmers, the proposal was ruled out because farmers would again have to deposit them in their accounts to encash them.
For the input assistance scheme the government needs around Rs 8,000 crore every year and it is keen that every rupee should directly reach intended beneficiary. “If bankers continue to intervene and adjust the input assistance against pending loans of farmers, the prime purpose of government will get negated,” feels FACCs Balanagar mandal convener K Gopal Reddy.
According to an official from the Finance Department, the government is wary about involving banks this time considering the past experiences during the loan waiver scheme and the payment of crop loss compensation.