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India - Barring Nagpur, more farmers across state opt for crop insurance

Despite problems in availing finances from banks, farmers across Maharashtra have come forward to insure their crops. In the last few years, the share of non-loanee farmers who opted for the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yogna (PMFBY) is far more than those who opted for crop loans from financial institutions.

The last date for farmers to fill up the forms for the scheme ended on July 31, but the work of reconciliation of data on the bank’s end is expected to continue till August 15. As of August 6, data shows that 94.03 lakh farmers have insured their crops, paying an insurance amount of Rs 421.72 crore.

Of the above, 87.57 lakh farmers are non-loanees, of which 6.43 lakh farmers have taken a loan from financial institutions at the start of their agricultural cycle. The scheme is mandatory for farmers who opt for crop loans, as the bank deducts the premium amount while disbursing the crop loan. For farmers who self-finance their agricultural activities, the scheme is optional, and if they wish to opt for the same, they need to go to the local Common Facilitation Centre (FCF) kiosk and pay the insurance amount.

As the figures show, non-loanee farmers form the bulk of insurees in the state. During the kharif of 2019-20, of the 1.26 crore farmers who had insured their crops, 1.11 crore were non-loanees, while 14.77 lakh were loanees. The trend was similar during 2018-19, when, of the 95.35 lakh farmers who insured their crops, 79.85 lakhs were non-loanees, while 15.50 lakh had opted for crop loans from banks.

Maharashtra’s disbursal of crop loans has been on a decline for the last three years, as more farmers have defaulted on their repayment schedule on the promises of crop loan waiver. At present, the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Shetkari Karja Mukti Andolan is at its last steps, with around 29 lakh of the 32 lakh eligible accounts receiving the waiver.

Barring the six districts in Nagpur division (Nagpur, Wardha, Bhandara, Gondia, Chandrapur and Gadchiroli), the above trend holds true for all other districts in the state. In fact, farmers in Marathwada, which alternates between unseasonal torrential rains and drought, have reported better enrolment numbers than the irrigated parts of Western Maharashtra. Maharashtra’s better record in terms of payment of compensation is one of the reasons why the scheme has received such approval from the state.

The anomaly in Nagpur division, farm activist Vijay Jawandhiya said, was due to the lethargy of the agriculture extension services to popularise the scheme. “The non-loanee farmers do not know about the benefit of the scheme – that’s why the enrollment is low in these parts,” he added.

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