Chandigarh (Punjab) [India], April 28 (ANI): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed all procurement agencies to ensure prompt lifting and timely payment to farmers through the newly introduced Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) system during the ongoing Rabi Marketing Season (RMS) 2021-22.
Reviewing the wheat procurement progress at a virtual meeting with his Cabinet, the Chief Minister also ordered strict adherence to the Covid protocols amid the current surge. He urged all those farmers, arhtiyas, labourers, employees of procurements agencies and other stakeholders, above the age of 45, visiting the grain markets to get themselves vaccinated at the Covid vaccination camps in all 154 market committees across the state.
On inquiring about the availability of gunny bags, the Chief Minister was informed by Principal Secretary, Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs, KAP Sinha that the issue had been sorted out and there was no shortage.
The Chief Minister expressed satisfaction at the smooth procurement amid the challenges faced by the state due to the ongoing farmers agitation against the farm laws.
The procurement of wheat commenced in the state on April 10, 2021, and in a span of just 18 days, 98 lakh metric tonnes (LMT) wheat has arrived in the Mandis, of which 95.97 LMT wheat has already been procured till date. Further, 70 per cent of the stock due to be lifted in 72 hours, has been lifted from the Mandis, while 90 per cent of the due payment of minimum support price (MSP), i.e. Rs.14,958 crore has been cleared by the department directly into the bank accounts of nearly 5 lakh farmers.
The Food and Civil Supplies department informed the Cabinet that the number of Mandis has been increased from 1872 to 3510 and 1638 additional/temporary Mandis have been set up in the state to stagger procurement to curb the spread of the ongoing second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Further, 30x30 feet boxes have been marked in the Mandi yards for unloading of heaps to ensure social distancing.
The Cabinet was also informed that the Punjab Mandi Board had set up 'farmers help desks' in the grain markets across the state, where IT professionals along with Board officials were assisting the farmers in their registration on the Anaaj Kharid portal to ensure timely payment directly into their bank accounts under the DBT scheme. It was also informed that till earlier seasons, the Department of Food transferred the payments into the bank accounts of nearly 22,000 arthiyas (commission agents) for making further payments to the farmers.
However, from the current procurement season with the introduction of the DBT scheme, the payments are now being directly transferred by the procurement agencies into the bank accounts of the farmers, which are numbering approximately 10 lakh. (ANI)