Context : Almost 60% of the rural population, basically farmers, are unable to access the Government Loan schemes, as per a survey conducted by a rural media platform Gaon connection recently. It is basically due to lack of information and trust. Similarly other schemes are also not known to the majority of the marginal and small farmers. The survey also noted that in 48% of farming families, the next generation does not want to pursue agriculture. In this context there was a need for long, to create such an interface Which could enable farmers to access all government schemes and credit/loan facilities.
News: The government has started generating a 12 digit unique ID for farmers that can be used to avail all farm related services under various schemes, according to a senior official of the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. The Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar earlier said that his ministry has created a database of 5.5 farmers and it will be increased to 8 crores soon.
Let’s understand this: The government has information about farmers from existing schemes such as PM-Kisan, Soil Health Card and PM fasal Bima Yojana and other Central government schemes.
With the help of this information the government is creating a database by generating a unique ID for each farmer. This database will be linked to digitized land records available with the state governments (Land record is being digitised by the state government as per Digital India Land Record Modernization program -DILRMP). Then these digitised land records with Unique ID of land-owning farmers will be linked to geographical information system (GIS). In this way the created database will let the government know, which farmer is having what kind of land, what is the geographical location of the land, what are the different schemes being availed by the farmers or already availed. It will help the centre and state governments in better planning.
At the same time this Unique ID enables farmers to seamlessly avail different government schemes and credit facilities through this interface. This will enable them to fetch knowledge from government sites that which crop, which fertilizer or which pesticide would be better for them as per their geographical and climatic condition. But the challenges of huge basic illiteracy and digital illiteracy will be there in parallel.
Haryana setting an example: It is worthy here to mention the Haryanas’ government initiative Parivar Pahchan Patra (PPP) in this regard. The PPP is an ambitious scheme of the state government, aiming to provide the benefits of all government welfare programmes and services to eligible families. This flagship scheme of the state government has been launched in the spirit of Antyodaya. All departments of the haryana state government are directed to ensure that the schemes and services of their respective departments are linked with the PPP. The PPP will help the government reach out to eligible families that are entitled to get the benefits of government schemes but have not availed them yet. Haryana is the first state in the country to devise such a scheme. So far, no such scheme has been started either in the country or abroad.
Recently, the Agriculture Ministry as part of its digital mission, signed MoUs with 10 private companies, including CISCO, Ninjacart, Jio Platforms, ITC and NCDEX e-Markets Ltd (NeML), and Microsoft, Star Agribazaar, Esri India Technologies, Patanjali and Amazon.
Way Forward: The basic requirement for the prosperity in Agriculture are knowledge and a kind of trust of the farmers in the government and the system . The farmers must have the knowledge of various government schemes. They must have trust in government and banks in terms of availing loan facilities especially when they keep their land and other assets as collateral. In the same manner the Government also needs detailed, interlinked and digitized information of farmers. The abovementioned interface will hopefully be going to solve the issue of Knowledge-lacking from farmers’ perspective and information-lacking from the government’s perspective. But still lots of challenges are there with the government with respect to the implementation of the schemes, with respect to really benefiting the farmers and earning their trust.