In a significant move, Karnataka is working with the Centre to develop a new 'consent framework' so that farmers' data can be shared with big buyers from the private sector.
The state government is working on a new platform that will connect farmers with the private sector. This is the result of the recent amendment to the APMC Act, which frees up agricultural trading by allowing a farmer to sell produce anywhere. The amendment has kicked up a storm.
If a farmer gives consent, then the government will share his or her data such as land details, crops being grown and mobile number with bulk purchasers, according to official sources.
The platform is being developed under the supervision of the e-Governance department and is likely to be ready in about three months, timed for the Rabi crop survey.
With this project, Karnataka is looking to gain a head start in the area of data protection, even as the Personal Data Protection (PDP) Bill is yet to be passed in Parliament. The government is sitting on data of 72.46 lakh farmers -- name, mobile number, geographic coordinates of every individual farmland and the crops being grown on each one of them.
"The PDP Bill talks about a consent framework and the Centre has notified it to ensure there is a standard. But the existing consent works on a one-to-one basis. Here, we want one-to-many as a farmer's consent will be required for his data to be shared with more than one person or entity," a senior e-Governance official involved in this project explained.
"If someone wants to buy 100 tonnes of tomato in the month of February within a 100-km radius, a query can be raised on the platform. The government will provide data of farmers who can supply this," the official said. "Consent of farmers will be taken in advance, because who knows when someone would want to purchase. We can't expect the farmer to give consent each time there is a buyer."
Farmers can give their consent via biometrics or OTP through the Farmer Registration & Unified Beneficiary Information System (FRUITS) portal. "Data of a farmer who does not give consent will not be shared," the official said.
Additional Chief Secretary (e-Governance) Rajeev Chawla said the project was in conformity with the PDP Bill. "It will be implemented only after the government’s clearance," he said.