New project to curb misuse of subsidised fertiliser

With the main objective of preventing misuse of fertilisers provided to farmers at subsidised rates, marginally curb diversion of fertilisers for non-agricultural use and to put a brake on corruption, an ambitious project of the Union government will be implemented on experimental basis across the State on November 1.

This project is being extended to all the districts after the successful implementation of the pilot project in Tumakuru district. After solving the hiccups, the scheme will be officially implemented from January 1, 2018, stated Agriculture Department sources.

As part of the implementation of the project, the Union government has begun registration of fertiliser retail outlets through the Agriculture Department. Till now, 2,915 outlets have got themselves registered to carry out trade through the Point of Sale (POS) machines, across the State. Registration of the remaining outlets is in progress, Joint Director of Agriculture B Manjunath told Deccan Herald.

POS

"From now on wards, private fertiliser distributors (sellers) have to carry out their trade through POS machines. As GPS have been fitted to these machines, fertilisers must be sold at permitted locations only. As retail fertiliser outlets are equipped with point of sale (PoS) machines that can read Aadhaar card of the shopkeeper, mobile number, bank account details, stock of fertiliser and its price, a farmer can buy fertilisers at subsidised rate only after he registershis Aadhaar number and finger print. An official receipt is also provided for this purchase", said Assistant Director of Agriculture Shivangowda Patil.

Advantages

"Till now, the Union government used to give subsidy to producers and distributors proportional to the production of fertiliser. This was causing loss to the ex-chequer. Under this new project, subsidy is provided based on the quantity of fertiliser purchased by the farmers. Also, the menace of illegal and informal bills will be checked", said Mr B Manjunath.

He explained that as the sale will go on through POS machines, there will no scope for exploiting farmers and ripping them off. The sellers cannot give false information of shortage in stock. As the soil health card will be linked to be project, fertilisers can be given based on the land the farmer holds and amount of fertiliser required for it.

"Fertiliser distributors trading through POS is compulsory. Those who fail to install it will have to lose their permit licenses", the officer added.

Shivangowda Patil said that in this project, the subsidy is not transferred to the accounts of the buyers (farmers) under direct benefit transfer scheme. Rather, it will be transferred to the accounts of the manufacturers and distributors.

According to officials, direct benefit transfer to beneficiaries' bank accounts - like in the cooking gas scheme - cannot be introduced in the fertiliser sector as the beneficiaries and their entitlements are not clearly defined. As many as 80 subsidised products - including urea, phosphatic and potassic fertilisers - have different subsidy rates.
The amount of subsidy on urea for instance is more than double the maximum retail
price and so it is a financial burden on the farmers to pay the market rates (including
subsidy) upfront and receive the subsidy amount subsequently.

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