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India - Govt. hoping to cover 25L farmers under PM’s crop insurance scheme this year

The State Agriculture Department hopes to bring 25 lakh farmers under the Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme — Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) — this year.

Compared to the previous year, the targeted figure of the current year is only marginally higher. However, officials point to the general tendency of farmers to go for insurance cover only when they anticipate distress.

With the Cauvery in spate and several important irrigation reservoirs in a comfortable position, the urge for the insurance cover this year may not be as high as in a year of anticipated poor monsoon. Yet, the officials feel the target is achievable.

The first year (2016-17) of the implementation of PMFBY was one of drought, whereas the subsequent year (2017-18) was a “normal year”. Last year, the northeast monsoon (October-December) had deficit rainfall but the damage due to Cyclone Gaja was far greater than that of the monsoon. With the authorities’ drive for enrolment of farmers in the insurance scheme, the total figure for 2018-19 exceeded that of 2016-17.

A striking feature of the profile of the farmers who were covered under the insurance scheme was that the insured farmers were predominantly non-loanee agriculturists. In 2018-19, about four-fifths of the insured farmers belonged to this category, given the fact that ordinarily, those taking crop loans would automatically come under the insurance cover.

This had captured the attention of the Central government, and the Principal Secretary of the State Agriculture Department, Gagandeep Singh Bedi, explained, at a national conference in Guwahati recently, how the State had accomplished the coverage of non-loanee farmers.

Among the factors that facilitated Tamil Nadu’s performance was the “timely sanction” by the State government of its share of the premium, which ranged from ₹ 566 crore in 2016-17 to ₹574 crore in 2018-19. This year, the government has set apart ₹635 crore, of which it has made an upfront payment of ₹7 crore.

Another aspect of the State’s performance was the payment of large sums of compensation. Tamil Nadu stood first at the all-India level in this regard, Agriculture Minister R. Doraikannu told the Assembly a few months ago. The application of remote sensing came in handy in getting a claim of ₹400 crore sanctioned for farmers of Ramanathapuram district for 2017-18 following a dispute between the Department and the insurance company concerned.

Officials add that the payment of compensation is bound to go up for 2018-19 as the claims are being processed by insurance companies. In the next two months, the claims for samba paddy and pulses are expected to be cleared.

Source – https://www.thehindu.com