Since it was introduced two years ago, the state government's direct payment scheme for wheat farmers has not found a single taker in Jalandhar.
As per the scheme, the farmers who wish to avail the facility of direct payment need to get registered with the any of the 12 market committees concerned 45 days before the procurement season begins. Since 2013, no farmer has registered himself during the wheat season while only 78 farmers opted for the scheme in 2013's paddy season, which too drew a blank in 2014.
Farmers have to submit a form - called the S-form - specifying details such as their name, address and bank account number so that they can receive payment directly in their bank accounts or get a cheque from the agency concerned. In return, commission agents issue a form - called form-III - having payment particulars to farmers who opt for direct payment.
Data collected from the district mandi office reveal that there are 12 market committees - Jalandhar city, Jalandhar Cantonment, Goraya, Nakodar, Shahkot, Phillaur, Mehatpur, Lohian, Adampur and Bhogpur - where farmers can submit S-forms to avail the facility.
Sources said that due to bad weather at the start of the season, the procurement agencies did not enter the grain markets for two weeks which forced farmers to take money from the arhityas (commission agents) to meet their daily needs.
They added that arhityas are like ATMs for the farmers. This one of the deciding factors in favour of the commission agents as under the direct payment scheme the accounts between the government and the farmers are settled two-three days after the produce is procured. While arhityas pay the farmers at the time of procurement and even provide credit to the farmers.
"The government held many camps to generate awareness about this facility at the block and village levels but nothing of that sort happened this year," the sources said.
Farmer Tarsem Singh of Bhullara village who sold his produce through agents to the grain market said the system of payment through commission agents was better as agents were always available in case of need.
Jalandhar district mandi officer Dhanveer Singh said, "Till now, not even a single farmer has submitted S-forms in 12 market committees of the district."
He said the poor response might be due to lack of awareness among farmers about the facility. He confirmed that no awareness camps were organised this year.
Meanwhile, according to details gathered from Jalandhar mandi office around 3.96 lakh metric tonnes of wheat has been procured - out of the 3.98 lakh MT that arrived - by various agencies from grain markets of the district till to date.
Area under wheat crop: 1.69 lakh hectare
Market committees: 12
Total grain markets: 78