World Bank pat for Rythu Bandhu implementation

Rythu Bandhu, the State government’s flagship programme for providing investment support to farmers, has received accolades from the World Bank for effective measures in the implementation of the scheme to reduce overall cost reduction for farmers.

According to Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF), a part of the World Bank group, the government had collected phone numbers of farmers when it updated landholding records and hired a call centre to ask farmers if and when they received their cheques. The call centre was asked to seek details on when each farmer cashed the cheques, whether they faced problems in receiving or cashing the cheque and how satisfied they were with the programme.

Study conducted

A study was conducted on whether using phone calls to monitor the distribution of cheques and telling agricultural officers concerned that calls were being made to beneficiaries to ascertain if they would improve their performance so that more farmers received their payment. The study was a randomised control trial covering 30 of the 31 districts of the State.

It randomly assigned 122 mandal agricultural officers to treatment group and 376 mandal officers to the control group. The officers in the treatment group were told that the programme would be monitored through phone calls to 150 randomly selected beneficiary farmers in each mandal. In the control group, 50 randomly selected farmers in each mandal were called, but the officers concerned were not informed of the plan.

The study revealed that phone based monitoring improved the rate at which farmers received their cheques based on the bank records showing which cheques were cashed. In the control group, 83% farmers cashed their cheques in the four-month period while in the treatment group, there was 1.3 percentage point increase in the number of farmers who cashed their cheques. “Overall, about US $1 million more reached farmers when agricultural officers were told they were being monitored,” the study revealed.

The study said the programme was “highly cost effective” in that the government paid the call centre about US $36,000, meaning that the cost per dollar of benefits delivered to beneficiaries was 3.6 cents which is “lower than the administrative cost of almost any anti-poverty programme for which such data is available”.

In addition, the programme, which led to more farmers receiving their cheques and receiving them earlier, reduced the farmers’ need to borrow money before the planting season. “Researchers estimated US $140,000 in additional benefit for farmers based on what they would otherwise have had to pay for loans to cover their costs versus what the government would have earned in interest by holding on to US $ 36,000,” the study revealed, adding the government of Telangana was considering this type of phone monitoring in other programmes too.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 11:33:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/world-bank-pat-for-rythu-bandhu-implementation/article26413088.ece

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