Even if the registration process is easier, farmers do not want to furnish land information to sell their products on online portals
By Vishal Dagar
On July 7, 2019, the government of Haryana, following the example of many Indian states to digitally connect farmers, launched the “Meri Fasal- Mera Byora” initiative. In order to drive registration, the government promised benefits like crop damage compensation due to natural disaster, ensuring the availability of all government facilities, etc, via the service.
However, a study conducted by us in Kharkhoda mandi in Sonepat district of Haryana, to evaluate the feedback on Meri Fasal- Mera Byora has found that farmers are facing huge technical issues in registering themselves. The deadline of registration on Meri Fasal- Mera Byora, for Kharif arrivals, has been extended again till September 15 owing to technical glitches—this the third extension. Moreover, this is not just the case with Haryana, many states have been extending the timeline of registration owing to technical glitches and failures.
The problems extend beyond technical glitches. Our survey found that even farmers do not want to furnish land information to sell their products on online portals. There is a general mistrust of government initiatives, like the Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) Act . A more critical issue is the delay of around one month in retrieving payments for products sold online. These issues need to be resolved as soon as possible, or the farmers may dump the new scheme.
Also, the physical or offline activities of the agricultural market will become ineffective if such integrations fail. The government, thus, needs to make farmers more self-reliant if it is to drive adoption of digital initiatives.
Third advanced estimates show a decrease of 0.63% in the arrival of total (rabi and Kharif of 2019-20) pulses. Once again, the reason for lower market arrival of rabi pulses in mandis could be the online registration and related complicated changes in the National Agriculture Market or eNAM process. It is difficult for the farmers in many states, i.e., Haryana, Rajasthan, Punjab, MP, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and UP to register themselves in such a short notice on the portals like Meri Fasal- Mera Byora.
They need to follow the Odisha example. Odisha government has once again extended the deadline for farmers’ registration for the sale of pulses for 2020-21 Rabi marketing season till mid-June.
The government is trying hard to bring the agricultural sector back on track by declaring enhanced pricing policies to encourage the farmers to increase the net sown area for pulses in the coming seasons. The commission for agricultural costs and prices (CACP) has recommended higher support prices for summer (Zaid) sown, Kharif crops. The cabinet has considered the new rates for pulses purposed by CACP, which includes an increase for tur Minimum Support Price (MSP) to `6,000 per quintal. National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (NAFED) on the recommendation of CACP, intervened as prices for moong are ruling above MSP.
However, such schemes will only work if there is a proper uptake mechanism. And, right now, most governments lack this. A better approach for the government would be to allow private participation in the space and use their expertise to onboard the farmers.