By: Express News Service | Rajkot | October 2, 2020 12:35:22 am
Farmers throng a registration centre opened on the old yard of Rajkot Agricultural Produce Market Committee, Thursday. (Express Photo)
The Gujarat State Civil Supplies Corporation Limited (GSCSCL) on Thursday started registration of farmers for procuring their groundnut at minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 5,275 per quintal but the process was disrupted after village computer entrepreneurs (VCEs) went on an indefinite strike demanding salaries, instead of commission, and insurance coverage.
Meanwhile, the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) released its forecast for Gujarat and pegged the groundnut crop in the state at 35.45 lakh tonnes (lt), which is 10 per cent more than last year.
Farmers thronged village panchayat offices across Saurashtra, north Gujarat and Kutch regions to register with the government to sell their groundnut at MSP. However, as VCEs refused to do the process, thousands of farmers lined up at registration centres opened by GSCSCL at Agricultural Produce Market Committees (APMCs) at taluka headquarters.
Manish Bhardwaj, secretary (agriculture), said more than 5,000 registrations were done by around 7 pm. “Over 5,000 entries have taken place on the opening day. The VCEs may have their issues but registration at 150 centres set up by GSCSCL, the state level agency (SLA) for groundnut procurement, has commenced,” Bhardwaj told The Indian Express.
The Central government has appointed National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Limited (NAFED), the apex cooperative marketing body of the country, for procuring groundnut at MSP from Gujarat. In turn, NAFED has appointed GSCSCL, an undertaking of the Gujarat government, as SLA for doing registration of farmers, opening procurement centres, etc. The registration will go on till October 20 and procurement is scheduled to start from October 21.
Jaidrathsinh Parmar, Minister of State (Independent charge) for Panchayat, could not be reached for a comment on the strike of the VCEs. District collectors said that they are in touch with the striking VCEs and that alternative arrangements are being put in place.
“We held a meeting with their association on Wednesday. Instead of commission, they want salary. They also want sufficient protection to ward off Covid-19 and insurance cover on line of government employees… We assured them hand sanitisers and masks but paying them salaries and extending insurance covers are policy decisions to be taken at government level,” said Anil Ranavasiya, district development officer of Rajkot who is also in-charge collector of Rajkot.
“We are giving log-in IDs and passwords to talatis who will do the registration if VCEs persist with their strike,” Ranavasiya added.
Junagadh district collector Sourabh Pardhi said that they have opened 10 registration centres. “Registration is going on at these 10 centres in APMCs but they may not be able to handle the rush of farmers. Efforts are on to persuade VCEs to end their strike,” said Pardhi.
VCEs are entrepreneurs contracted by government to help people avail benefits of digital services of government in villages. They help people fill forms for benefits under various government schemes, provide print outs of revenue records, etc. The VCEs get a fixed amount from the government as commission.
GSCSCL officers said that the state government has fixed Rs10 as VCE’s commission for every registration of farmers for groundnut procurement and Rs 8 per application of farmers seeking compensation against crop loss caused by excessive rain.
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