Modi's Flagship Crop Insurance Scheme Wavering as Farmers Continue to Suffer -Bani Bedi
In Maharashtra, a mere 7% of total claims have been settled under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.
New Delhi: In April this year, Beed district in Maharashtra won an award for ‘effective implementation’ of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFSBY) – the Centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme for farmers. However, last week it was reported that farmers in Beed were provided compensation amounts of Re 1, Rs 2, Rs 3 and Rs 5 for suffering crop damage. This is against a total of Rs 51.42 lakh that had been collected from farmers in the district.
Yogesh Pande, a spokesperson for the Kolhapur-based farmers’ union Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatna told NDTV, “The insurance companies either pay meagre amount as compensation or delay the payment inordinately.”
More than 2,000 farmers of Kej tehsil in Beed district of Maharashtra have been given between Rs 1 and Rs 5 as crop insurance compensation. A meagre Rs 1 was given to 773 farmers, and Rs 2 and Rs 4 to 669 and 702 farmers respectively. This data was recently released by a branch of the District Central Cooperative Bank in Beed.
Maharashtra’s agrarian crisis and the role of crop insurance
Maharashtra has been suffering a severe agrarian distress for the last few years. This year 1,092 farmers have already committed suicide. That is seven farmer suicides everyday.
In the Parbhani district of Marathwada, one of the worst affected regions, farmers’ groups have protested through rasta rokos, demanding compensation for crop insurance. Massive delays and inadequacy in payment of compensation have contributed to the mounting distress amongst farmers in the state.
For the 2017 kharif season, insurance companies were due to pay farmers Rs 2,269 crores as claims under the PMFSBY. However, till May 10, the companies had disbursed only Rs 165 crore, or a mere 7.2% of the total claims. The public sector Agriculture Insurance Company was the worst performing – it owed Rs 1,014 crore to 18.7 lakh farmers, and had only released Rs 9 lakh to 40 farmers until May 10.
The kharif season last year had witnessed a long dry spell during monsoon and was overall a difficult season for farmers due to the paucity of rainfall. Pest attacks lowered cotton yields by 40% from the previous year. Farmers who needed money for inputs for the next sowing season were left in despair.
Farmers’ groups have claimed that anyone who wants a crop loan has to compulsorily sign up for the government scheme. Government data shows that 81 lakh farmers in Maharashtra ended up enrolling for it, of which 45 lakh were supposed to be beneficiaries. However, only 3.5 lakh farmers (8% of total beneficiaries) actually received the compensation.
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