An Aadhaar-linked database for the central government’s farm-oriented schemes is in the works.
Currently, the government has a database of beneficiaries for soil health cards, kisan credit cards, crop-insurance and other government schemes. The new database, expected to have details of more than 50 million farmers across nine states in its first phase of implementation, will integrate the information from all the existing databases to map farmers’ landholdings and ensure that they’re paid procurement prices directly.
According to agriculture secretary Sanjay Agarwal, the government already has the data of 9 Cr farmers who are beneficiaries of the PM-KISAN scheme. Of these, 84% are now Aadhaar-authenticated. “We have started the exercise. We have asked the states to verify the farmers’ landholdings. The database will be a consolidation of all kinds of genuine lists of farmers available with the government,” Agarwal told Economic Times.
“The database, likely to be available by June 30, will use satellite imaging of farmlands to ensure that each farmer receives advisories based on the kind of land they possess and the crops they grow,” said Vivek Agarwal, joint secretary of the newly created Digital Agriculture Division, to Economic Times.
“The government is discussing ways to reduce the use of chemicals and fertilisers to boost the productivity of land,” Jai Shankar Mishra, director at Lucknow-based think tank Agriculture Research and Economic Development Institute told Economic Times.
Agarwal, who is also the CEO of PM-KISAN Scheme, said the database might also help agritech companies in coming up with innovative solutions for increasing farm productivity.
The agricultural sector accounts for 18% of India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While India is the world’s largest producer of rice, wheat, and spices among others, issues such as fragmented land holdings, soil degradation, poor irrigation infrastructure and erratic rainfall patterns severely affect the country’s crop production.
Agritech startups have been trying to address these farm issues through the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), big data and drone technology among others. The database is also expected to facilitate Direct Benefit Transfers (DBT) in the bank accounts of farmers.