New Delhi, June 29: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved computerization of Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACS) with a budget of Rs 2,516 crore.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has approved computerization of PACS with the objective of increasing efficiency of PACS, bringing transparency and accountability in their operations; facilitating PACS to diversify their business and undertake multiple activities/ services.

Addressing the media about the cabinet decision, Union Minister Anurag Thakur said, "This project proposes computerization of about 63,000 functional PACS over a period of five years with a total budget outlay of Rs 2,516 crore with Government of India share of Rs 1,528 crore."

The PACS constitutes the lowest tier of the three-tier Short-term cooperative credit (STCC) in the country comprising approx 13 crore farmers as its members, which is crucial for the development of the rural economy. Rising Agriculture Exports Helping in Increasing Farmers' Incomes, Says Commerce Ministry Official.

However, the majority of PACS have so far been not computerized and still functioning manually resulting in inefficiency and trust deficit. In some of the states, stand-alone and partial computerization of PACS has been done. There is no uniformity in the software being used by them and they are not interconnected with the DCCBs and StCBs.

"The programme will benefit approx 13 crore farmers most of which are small and marginal farmers and it will also bring transparency, efficiency and uniformity in accounting standard and help PACS to become nodal delivery service point at Panchayat level," Thakur said.

Computerization of PACS, besides serving the purpose of financial inclusion and strengthening service delivery to farmers especially Small and Marginal Farmers (SMFs) will also become nodal service delivery point for various services and provision of inputs like fertilizers, seeds etc.

The project will help in improving the outreach of the PACS as outlets for banking activities as well as non-Banking activities apart from improving digitalisation in rural areas.

The project comprises development of cloud based common software with cyber security and data storage, providing hardware support to the PACS, digitization of existing records including maintenance support and training. This software will be in vernacular language having flexibility of customisation as per the needs of the States. Project Management Units (PMUs) will be set up at Central and State levels.

District level support will also be provided at a cluster of about 200 PACS. In the case of states where computerization of PACS has been completed, Rs 50,000 per PACS will be reimbursed provided they agree to integrate with or adopt the common software, their hardware meets the required specifications, and the software was commissioned after February 1, 2017.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 29, 2022 05:38 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website