The move has created apprehensions among the farming community which feels that it is a precursor to eliminating agriculture subsidy.
According to an official statement from the Madurai district collector, all fertilizer sales will be through POS (Point of Sales) machines. This will help regulate fertilizer sales thereby providing accurate subsidy component to fertilizer companies. To enrich the soil, the farming community utilises various chemical fertilizers which the Centre has been subsidising. For instance, one sack (50 kilograms) of urea is provided to farmers at Rs 250 when its open market price is Rs 410. Similarly, a sack of DAP fertilizer is sold to farmers at Rs 1,260 against the market price of Rs 2,100. The difference in price is borne by the Union government as subsidy component.
Using Aadhaar, the fertilizer sale could be regulated and the misuse of subsidised fertilizers for non-farming activities prevented. Besides, the Union government will be able to provide the exact amount of subsidy component to fertilizer companies, according to the statement.
Fertilizer company representatives have already conducted training session for wholesale and retailer fertilizer merchants as well as secretaries of PACS. In the first phase, 180 PACS and 147 private fertilizer outlets will be given POS machines for sales. Farmers procuring fertilizers have to provide their Aadhaar number and place their fingerprint in POS machine for verification. Only if both the number and fingerprint match will the POS allow the next transaction. The system also has provision for fertilizer inspectors and officials to verify daily stock and sale of fertilizers, the statement further mentioned.
The farming community however expressed their anxieties over the system. There are many small farmers who don't have lands but carry out farming under lease method. The land may be in the name of relatives in a few cases. "As of now we don't have clarity as to how this Aadhaar system is going to work", commented farming community leader R Arulpragasam.
Apart from PACS transactions, at least 30 % of fertilizer sales happens through private players and the entire effort is to curb this unregulated sales. This unregulated fertilizer market is where small farmers get their agricultural inputs on credit basis and pay the merchants after harvest. "It appears that this step is the beginning to eliminate all subsidies in farming sector in a phased manner", said a farmer.