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India - Fewer farmers get crop insurance than in 2017 Kharif season

Compounding worries in drought-hit rural Maharashtra, fewer farmers across the state have received crop insurance disbursals for the 2018 Kharif season than for the 2017 Kharif season.

Data shows that while 49.8 lakh farmers received payments for claims they made under the Prime Minister Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in 2017 Kharif season, 45 lakh farmers’ claims were accepted for the 2018 Kharif season.

Bucking an all-India trend of lower coverage since the inception of PMFBY in 2016, Maharashtra has registered an increase in the number of farmers who opted for the cover, from 87.68 lakh farmers in 2017 Kharif season to 91.4 lakh in 2018. In the same period, area under insurance coverage rose from 50.22 lakh hectare to 52.35 lakh hectare. Gross premiums collected and total sum insured also rose.

While data shows a significant rise in total payments to farmers under the scheme from Rs 2,860 crore in 2017 Kharif season to Rs 3,397 crore in 2018, the number of farmers whose claims were accepted fell by about 4,80,000.

The problem of delays in disbursals also continues in the state, with only 35.22 lakh farmers recorded as having received their claim payments as of June 4, as per the data. About two-thirds of the total sum to be disbursed, or Rs 2,232.98 crore, was recorded as paid as of June 4.

The data is based on responses from the state agriculture commissioner’s office to a Right to Information application filed by Parbhani-based activist and CPI leader Rajan Kshirsagar. The response said the data was provisional, to be updated by the private insurers.

On Monday, conceding that there was widespread unrest among farmers against private insurers, state Agriculture Minister Anil Bonde said in the legislature that taluka-level committees would be formed to address the issue. Shiv Sena, has set up taluka-level assistance camps for farmers with grievances pertaining to crop insurance claims.

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