New Delhi

The Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare has made Aadhaar mandatory for oil palm farmers to claim government subsidy, which will be directly transferred into their bank accounts. However, while advising state governments to facilitate Aadhaar cards made for those who do not possess it yet, the Centre has for the time being made some relaxations by allowing the farmers to submit alternative identity proofs.

The Government launched the National Mission for Edible Oils - Oil Palm (NMEO-OP) in August 2021 under which there is a target to raise crude palm oil production to 11.20 lakh tonnes by 2025-26. The scheme is operational in 15 States, covering a potential area of 21.75 lakh hectares.

Under NMEO-OP, a Centrally Sponsored Scheme, there is a provision of Viability Gap Payment (VGP) to insulate farmers from the volatility in Crude Palm Oil prices. The VGP is paid directly through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), when the industry’s payable price (based on the average market rate for a particular period) falls below the government-set rate, which is declared by for every Oil Palm Year (November-October).

Special assistance

The differential amount paid by the government to ensure that farmers get a minimum assured price, irrespective of fluctuations in market rates.

The NMEO-OP also offers special assistance of ₹1,00,000 per hectare to farmers for planting material, management, and to address the topographical challenges (land clearance, half-moon terrace construction, bio-fencing) faced by them in the north east region. Besides, it provides ₹2,90,000 for the purchase of harvesting tools to farmers.

In a notification issued last week by joint secretary Ajeet Kumar Sahu, the agriculture ministry said any eligible beneficiary desirous of availing the benefits under the scheme is required to furnish proof of possession of Aadhaar number or has to undergo Aadhaar authentication.

However, if the beneficiary does not possess the Aadhaar number or, has not yet enrolled for Aadhaar, shall have to apply for Aadhaar enrolment, it said. Further, concerned department in the State governments are asked to offer Aadhaar enrolment facilities at convenient locations for the beneficiaries who are not yet enrolled in coordination with Unique Identification Authority of India.

Other identify proofs

Until the time Aadhaar is assigned to the individual farmer, benefits under the NMEO-OP scheme shall be given to them if they possess the Aadhaar Enrolment ID slip along with any of the other identity proofs such as Bank Passbook, Post office Passbook with photo, Voter ID Card, PAN Card, Passport, Driving licence, Ration Card, MGNREGS Job Card, Kisan Photo Passbook, Certificate by a Gazetted Officer.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently reiterated the Government’s commitment to move towards self-sufficiency in edible oils production and harped on the importance of oil palm cultivation in the north-east region. “The insufficiency in edible oil is negatively impacting our forex by $20.56 billion, making it more important for the nation to become self-sufficient (Atmanirbhar) in the production of edible oil through the promotion of oilseeds and palm oil,” the Agriculture Ministry said last week.

The ministry said that 111 nurseries with the capacity of 1 crore planting material have been established, along with 12 seed gardens with the potential of 1.2 crore planting material for area expansion under the mission.