On the request of the Government of India’s policy think tank, NITI Aayog, MSC conducted a nationally representative study on Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) in fertilizer across four consecutive rounds concurrent to the scale-up of the program. DBT is a program that the Government of India launched to transfer the benefits and subsidies of various social welfare programs directly in the bank account of the beneficiary. The objective of the fourth round of the study was to understand the on-ground implementation status of the pan India roll-out of the Aadhaar-enabled fertilizer distribution system. The study assessed the effectiveness of the roll-out when the demand is at its peak, specifically during the Kharif season (July to October), and looked at the issues and challenges in implementation.

For the study, MSC adopted a mixed-methods study design comprising quantitative and qualitative components. The quantitative research was designed to provide national and state-level point estimates about key indicators on the status of implementation. The research used a nationally representative sample of 11,281 farmers and 1,182 retailers from 54 districts of 18 states.

The study highlighted that in the first year of operations, the DBT-Fertilizer program helped the Government of India save USD 1.54 billion. The preference for a system based on Aadhar (India’s digital identity system) has increased among the farmers but it has remained constant among retailers. The study also led to specific recommendations on technology and operations, among others.