Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has once again wilted under the pressure of the ‘Arhatiya’ (middlemen) lobby and outrightly rejected the centre’s request of providing Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) scheme to the farmers. In a video conference with representatives of the Federation of Arhatiya Association of Punjab, the CM announced his support to the middlemen aka the ‘commission agents’ and assured that they will remain an integral part of the procurement system in the state.
“My doors are open for you,” said the CM to the Federation whilst adding that Punjab farmers shared a long-standing and time-tested relations with ‘arhatiyas’, whom, he described as the backbone of the successful procurement system in the state.
Under the DBT, farmers are to be paid directly for their crops bought by the government agencies at the MSP, bypassing ‘arhatiyas’. Piyush Goyal, the Union Food Minister had written a letter to the Punjab government on March 27, asking it to implement the direct payment of the minimum support price (MSP) to farmers. However, keeping the central government’s request at bay, Captain Amarinder Singh has prostrated in front of the middlemen who have been the biggest demography of participants in the anti-farm laws protest.
In layman terms, the DBT scheme ensures that farmers are paid just the right amount for their crop without a single penny going towards the Arathiya who are the scavenger hunters of the entire farming chain.
The middlemen take a hefty 2.5 per cent commission on payments, hidden costs on procurement, taking the total profit of around 10 per cent just for facilitating the trade. Moreover, the arhatiyas also charge money to the farmers by fooling them in the name of the quality of grains and through various other methods.
Reported previously by TFI, with the online system, the process of payments to farmers can be hastened, and the people who sell their produce on MSP will not have to wait for months on stretch for the money.
“With the complete implementation of online mode of payment for farmers, not only will they receive the payment in 48 hours into their accounts, but the Food Corporation of India (FCI) will also credit the state procurement agencies with the subsidy amount within 72 hours of purchase,” one of the government officials was quoted as saying.
The farmers of Punjab are suffering not because the Union government has brought the farm laws but because these laws are not fully operational yet and due to the lack of courage in the successive Congress governments to implement reforms and remove the arhatiyas from the system. Punjab CM’s aforementioned statements are a dagger in the back for the honest and small farmers who just want proper and fast payment for their crops, which otherwise is gobbled up by the ultra-rich arhatiyas.