Three out of five farmers in districts where direct benefit transfer in fertiliser sector (DBT-F) was tried on a pilot basis gave their stamp of approval to the new scheme over manual system of fertiliser distribution.

The Centre rolled out DBT-F across India from April 1 after successful completion of three pilot rounds which covered 2, 6 and 14 districts.

However, there are still concerns about the average transaction through point-of-sale (POS) device which still remains high, according to a survey of DBT-F roll-out in 14 districts in 11 States, where the scheme was implemented on an experimental basis.

Transaction time

“The transaction time currently is about 5 minutes, while around 2-2.5 minutes will be an ideal time. At the rate of 5 minutes per farmer, a retailer will be able to cater to only 120 farmers a day, while on an average up to 300 farmers turn up at the shop buying fertilisers during peak season,” said Mitul Tapliyal, Associate Director of MicroSave, the consulting firm which carried out the study.

The study also found that nearly 3.4 per cent of farmers fail to get their Aadhaar authentication done despite three attempts for a host of reasons including the inability of POS machine to capture the biometrics correctly and poor network connectivity.

However, it showed that the successful authentication has improved as compared to earlier pilot phases.

Retail commission

One of the major recommendations of the report that MicroSave submitted to NITI-Aayog on December 22 was to increase retailer commission. There is a need to deal with possible retailer attrition in future as low fertiliser sale commissions and additional operational hassles would make unattractive for retailers.

Consequently, the Cabinet in a meeting held last week of March, almost doubled the dealer commission from ₹180 per tonne to ₹354.

Another key suggestion was to make POS machines device-agnostic so that a range of gadgets such as smartphones to tablets to desktops could be used by retailers for making Aadhaar authentication, Tapliyal said.