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Sidelining ‘arhtiyas’ Centre asks Punjab, Haryana govt for online MSP

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date

New Delhi: In an attempt to put out the fire started by themselves, the BJP-led central government has reportedly asked the Punjab and Haryana governments to ensure online payment for crops procured at MSP directly to farmers from next procurement season. The wheat procurement is likely to start in the next few weeks.

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The move coincides with the massive farmers’ protest demanding for repeal of Centre’s newly formed farm laws and legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops. The ongoing protest which seems to be a “strike” against arhtiyas (middlemen) as they would be elbowed out if farmers are free to sell their produce outside the mandis, farmers’ demands are being fully supported by the middlemen.

Meanwhile, the Centre has said this is to ensure the famers get full benefit of the price offered by the government. The system in the two main paddy and wheat procurement states channels the payments to ‘arhtiyas’, who in turn pay farmers. This gives the middlemen some serious leverage over farmers while also benefiting from mandi fees and commissions.

As per officials, the middlemen often pocket some of the payment and often act as informal moneylenders.

Going a step further, Uttar Pradesh government has implemented a biometric authentication system for farmers which has facilitated  faster transfer of benefit on selling their produce at MSP. “In this case, you have no doubt about the credentials of farmers and even the Food Corporation of India (FCI) settles the demand raised by the state concerned quickly. Other states can adopt this model,” revealed a source.

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Following UP’s footprint, Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh are also keen to adopt the biometric model, as per the food ministry.

Furthermore, holding a digital press conference, Food minister Piyush Goyal told the reporters that the government is committed to ensure MSP. He also cited how the procurement of crops has gone up at MSPs under the Modi government.

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