Commodities

Activists red-flag farmer unique ID move

KV Kurmanath Hyderabad | Updated on July 02, 2021

FSMI says data could be compromised; ‘IDEA’ supporters say it’s long overdue

Activists representing the IT industry have opposed the consultation paper floated by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare that seeks to introduce IDEA or India Digital Ecosystem of Agriculture, saying the move could compromise the personal data of farmers and could exclude some of them from various government schemes.

The Free Software Movement of India (FSMI) has said that it opposed the move to create a Unique Farmer Identity (UFID) for every farmer in the country based on their Aadhaar data collected for various schemes such as PM-KISAN. “The push for creating this unique identity is to create farmer profiles and to link their personal assets to this identity. This model of creating farmer profiles and sharing this data is a direct violation of their fundamental right to privacy,” Y Kiran Chandra, President of FSMI, said.

‘IDEA long overdue’

“The usage of Aadhaar data collected for specific purposes like PM-KISAN to create UFID is a contempt of the Supreme Court orders in Aadhaar judgment,” he said. Ram Kaundinya, Co-founder of ThinkAg, which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in food and agri fields, felt that the concept of IDEA was long overdue.

“With the rapid development taking place on the technological front, it would be a shame if we do not use it to modernise our agricultural ecosystem and make it more efficient and profitable for the farmer,” he observed.

“IDEA attempts this task in a grand fashion and it should succeed for the sake of our farmers. It is not easy to get such a huge project going and make it work smoothly but we have demonstrated it with several other projects like Aadhar,” he said.

Referring to the documents obtained through Right to Information Act, Chandra said the absence of proper information is concerning and “if linked to IDEA, it completely changes the scope of this consultation”.

Alleging that the Government has asked the States to furnish all the land data, he said digitisation of land is error prone. But Kaundinya said: “There are issues related to agriculture being a State subject, but I think the document makes it very clear that there is a complete involvement and role for the States.”

Interesting concepts

He concepts like 26 Value Nodes, Building Blocks, Open architecture, Interoperability, federated architecture and value and outcome-driven integrated services were very interesting.

The All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has alleged that digitisation of farming and use of technology in farming was merely converting them into data generators for the private sector. “This has been unilaterally initiated without involving farmers and understanding their interests,” it said.

While faulty data on land records could lead to exclusions, tenant farmers would be completely left out of the institutional credit because they don’t own any land, Chandra said.

While agreeing with the premise that technology can be used to improve lives of farmers, the FSMI said technology as a tool can empower people and at the same time can exclude people due to errors in software design and implementation.

While welcoming the move to use free and open source software, it argued that there was no source code being published in the public domain by any Government department. “It should provide the entire source code of the IDEA system,” it said.

“Sharing of personal data without a data protection law and without the legal authorisation of farmers is a direct violation of their fundamental right to privacy,” it said.

A different opinion

Ram Kaundinya, Co-founder of ThinkAg, which promotes innovation and entrepreneurship in food and agri fields, felt that the concept of IDEA was long over due.

“With the rapid development taking place on the technological front, it would be a shame if we do not use it to modernise our agricultural ecosystem and make it more efficient and profitable for the farmer,” he observed.

“IDEA attempts this task in a grand fashion and it should succeed for the sake of our farmers. It is not easy to get such a huge project going and make it work smoothly but we have demonstrated it with several other projects like Aadhar,” he felt.

Welcoming the move to issue a unique ID to farmers, he said it was not clear if tenant farmers, share croppers and other farmers who didn’t not own land will also get a unique ID. “It has to be taken care of in the final plan,” he pointed out.

Published on July 02, 2021

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