New Delhi | The Centre is keen to implement direct benefit transfer of fertiliser subsidy to farmers and Tuesday asked the states to extend cooperation in rolling out the new initiative.
The states were also told to complete necessary paperwork to enable the Centre to clear pending subsidy to the tune of Rs 4,000 crore to fertiliser manufacturers.
Addressing a conference of state agriculture secretaries and commissioners, Union Fertiliser Minister Ananth Kumar said the state governments should take steps against hoarding and black-marketing for ensuring adequate supply of fertilisers.
The minister said the states are equally responsible for ensuring adequate supply of quality fertiliser at affordable rates to farmers till last mile.
“If anybody is hoarding or black-marketing, who is responsible? The government of India is responsible to some extent, but you have powers under the Essential Commodities Act to act against them. Do something,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Fertiliser Secretary Vijay Shankar Pandey said, “The government of India is very keen to implement DBT in fertiliser. We need your inputs and co-operation for implementing DBT.”
The Centre has identified 16 districts for implementation of DBT on a pilot basis, he added.
The government has budgeted about Rs 70,000 crore for fertiliser subsidy for this fiscal. The subsidy arrears are likely to be around Rs 30,000 crore at the end of this fiscal.
Earlier, the fertiliser minister announced plans to set up an Indian Council of Fertiliser Research (ICFR).
He asked the states to take action against dealers for forcing farmers to buy fertilisers which are not required.
“Tag-along of fertilisers is criminal. Farmers have liberty to buy their own choice of fertilisers, but dealers are forcing…,” he added.
Besides, the minister asked the states to set up godown facilities for prepositioning fertilisers for ensuring timely supply of soil nutrients to farmers.
State Minister for Fertilisers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya stressed on the need to reduce cost of agri-inputs, including fertilisers, for doubling the income of farmers in the next five years and bringing down farmers’ suicides.
He also noted that new rates of non-urea fertilisers have not been implemented in many states.