Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 13Farmers having marginal landholdings will soon be able to hire tractors and other agricultural implements much similar the way urbanites hire cabs in cities.Unlike cabs, where the ownership of the vehicle remains with the original owner, the new arrangement entails the transfer of ownership rights of equipment to the drivers, who will be selected from among landless farmers of various villages.This would be a step ahead compared to similar such centres being run by cooperative societies, where the ownership of implements remain with the society.In a first-ever government-sponsored initiative, the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has launched a pilot project in Fazilka and Muktsar districts, wherein farm machinery will be just a call away from the farmers who can't afford to purchase expensive farm implements.The bank plans to replicate the project in other districts and has decided to launch it in Faridkot, Ferozpur and Moga districts this year."These services will be available on quite a similar mechanism as is the case with taxi services such as Ola cabs. NABARD has associated with Fazilka-based Jawala Bhai Nathu Ram Trust and sanctioned Rs 25 lakh budget for the project. The trust will purchase pre-owned implements worth Rs 22 lakh. The remaining Rs 3 lakh will be in the form of grant to be used to train drivers," said Dr PM Ghole, Chief General Manager (CGM), Punjab Regional Office, NABARD.Gohle said: "The trust is already running such services in the Fazilka area for some years and got a good response. NABARD wishes to replicate it in other pockets of Punjab."The CGM said the trust had contact details of around 3,000 farmers. "Needy farmers can make a call to the trust's call centre and avail themselves of the services," he said.Another salient feature of the project is the transfer of ownership of the implements to drivers. "Rent charged from farmers will be divided between drivers and the trust. However, drivers will pay part of their income to the trust in the form of monthly instalment to settle the cost of equipment. This will facilitate the transfer of ownership to the driver," Gohle said.