Feb 29, 2016 07:28 AM IST | Source:

Budget 2016: Farmers look to FM for details of revamped crop insurance scheme

This comes after National Crime Records Bureau registered 5,650 farmer suicides in 2014, more than half from Maharashtra, due to unseasonal monsoon and two consecutive years of drought.

Raveena Singh

Almost month and a half before the Budget announcement, the Modi government launched its first major crop insurance scheme, which according to some analysts, is fundamental for other agricuture schemes.

This comes after National Crime Records Bureau registered 5,650 farmer suicides in 2014, more than half from Maharashtra, due to unseasonal monsoon and two consecutive years of drought.

Accordingly, the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) replaces the existing two schemes, the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and the Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).

The aim is faster settlements by increasing use of technology to capture crop data and reduce premiums to be paid by farmers to 2 percent for summer-sown (kharif) crops, 1.5 percent for winter crops (rabi) and 5 percent in the case of annual commercial and horticultural crops.

The current premium share for farmers can go as high as 40 percent, which is one of the main reasons that only about a tenth of India's estimated 263 million cultivators opt for crop insurance, reports Reuters

However, one of the Hindu Business report highlights the shortcomings of the scheme. "The balance between the actual premium charged by the insurance companies and that paid by farmers is met by the government, no matter how big the gap; it could be even 90 percent, as asserted by the government."

While the unit of insurance will be village-based for major crops, individuals suffering losses will not benefit unless the entire area gets affected. Not just this, the government reports claim only 25 percent of the cropped area of 194.40 million has been covered under the insurance scheme so far, while the goal now is to extend it to 50 per cent in three years, adds the report.

Farm output that contributes almost 15 percent to India's economy comes from farmer and rural communities making for half the country's workforce and more-than-half vote bank.

With the biggest economic event unfolding on Monday, more scrutinized crop insurance scheme should accompany much-talked about big ticket reforms. 

The centre should, therefore, address farmers' distress urgently by means of re-examining narrowly the scheme under which Prime Minister Narendra Modi wishes to target 50 percent farmers in 2 years.

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