Enrolment under PMFBY crop insurance scheme sees steep decline -Sayantan Bera
Delayed assessment of loss and settlement of claims by insurance companies may have led to farmers losing faith in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, say analysts
New Delhi: Sharad Markad, a lanky teenager from a marginal farming family in Maharashtra, spent the first day of 2019 scrounging for funds. Faced with a drought, the third in the past five years, Markad had taken it upon himself to build a community cattle shed in November. Due to an acute shortage of fodder and water, farmers in his village in Ahmednagar district were struggling to tend to their livestock. Now, Markad’s shed is home to 250 cattle and he is desperate for funds to keep it running. When asked if his family had crop insurance that would help cover daily expenses during a drought, Markad said he couldn’t care less. “We did not enrol last season since it is of no use…our crop was damaged in the past but we did not receive any money.”
Markad’s loss of interest in the crop insurance scheme, which was launched with much fanfare in 2016 echoes the sentiment of farmers across India. After an initial spurt in enrolment during the kharif crop season beginning June 2016, enrolment under the flagship crop insurance scheme—named Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)—has seen a steep decline, driven by payouts which are either delayed by months or not settled altogether.
In April 2016, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched PMFBY as a key scheme to help farmers cope with weather uncertainties. In a country where over half of the unirrigated crop area is dependent on the vagaries of the four-month-long south-west monsoon, PMFBY promised increased cover for a variety of risks at a premium of just 2% (of sum assured) for kharif and 1.5% for winter or rabi crops. It was decided that the centre and states will equally share the cost of actuarial premium payable to insurance companies.
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