Bengalís paddy cash transfer falters

Farmers in Bengal

According to him, not even 50 per cent farmers have opened accounts. "Only big farmers have bank accounts. They are selling paddy to the government while small farmers are still deprived of the MSP," he adds.

The experience tells that most of the farmers take loan from private landlord for farming. The condition is that they will sell paddy to the lenders and not to the government. It is the lenders and not the farmers who sell paddy to the millers. The small farmers get only a portion of their produce.

DN Mondal, president of Bengal Rice Mill Association said: "Farmers in certain districts often encounter with difficulties because of lack of adequate number of rice mills. There are about 10 rice mills in Howrah, South 24-Parganas, North 24-Parganas and Nadia. Farmers do not want to travel long to come to the rice mill along with paddy sacks because of soaring transport costs. Therefore they prefer to sell their produce to their neighboring people."

The farmers, who want to open zero balance accounts, also complain that they do not get proper advises from the government and the banks. Even there are reports that farmers had to return from bank after being told that zero balance accounts are not opened.

Flooded with complaints that middlemen, posing as farmers, were selling paddy to rice millers, the state government has this time decided to engage Block Development Officers (BDOs) in identification of actual farmers through land deeds, commonly known as parcha. But reports suggests that middlemen are opening bank accounts to claim MSP for paddy and they are collecting forged parchas. "We have asked BDOs to be more careful in identifying the farmers," says state Food and Supply Minister Jyotipriya Mullick.

He claimed that 98 per cent of the farmers have opened zero balance account and the government is assisting the remaining 2 per cent farmers to open bank accounts. Till 2011, 74 percent farmers had bank accounts. "Yes, we must admit that still there are some pockets where farmers have not opened bank accounts. Also there are complaints of distress sell. We are requesting the farmers to give us two photographs and one identity proof so that we can help them open bank account." Mullick said.

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