A few weeks ahead of the commencement of the harvesting of kharif crops, the Centre has asked states to ensure the use of smartphones and agri app to capture crop cutting experiments (CCEs) data on a real-time basis. The move is aimed at expediting the payment of insurance claims to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).
According to an agriculture ministry note, CCEs from this season should be captured on smartphones or agri app for the transmission of yield data on a real-time basis to national crop insurance portal. This data must thereafter be validated by the concerned state nodal authority within a week, according to the note. It stated that for states to be eligible for the Central share of premium subsidy in kharif 2017-18, it is required to be ensured that 100% of CCEs are essentially captured on smartphones.
Under the PMFBY launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2016, farmers need to pay a uniform premium of just 2% for the more rain-dependent kharif crops and 1.5% for all rabi crops. The premium for annual commercial and horticultural crops has been capped at 5%. The remaining share of the premium will be borne equally by the Centre and the respective state government.
The agriculture ministry has also asked states to use technologies such as remote sensing, satellites and drones to deal with frequent reports of discrepancies; such as the area insured was more than the area sown for a particular crop in many states. According to official data, out of the total claims ofRs 15,200 crore (including both kharif and rabi seasons 2016-17) made by the farmers,Rs 10,739 crore has been approved andRs 8,038 crore has already been paid to around 93 lakh farmers. Around 404 lakh farmers (390 lakh hectare insured) and 157 lakh farmers (175 lakh hectare insured) took up crop insurance under PMFBY and restructured weather based crop insurance scheme, respectively.
The agriculture ministry note has been prepared for the forthcoming National Conference, to be held during September 19-20, for preparing strategies for rabi crops along with states. It also stated that in the first year of the implementation, the PMFBY covered 30% of the gross cropped area, while for 2017-18, the target is to cover 40% of the cultivable area.
The note also stated that in the ongoing kharif season, “no intimation has so far been received from any state regarding occurrence or declaration of drought”.
While the total area under various kharif crops has almost kept pace with last year’s, area under oilseeds saw a fall of almost 10% and pulses 4%. Arhar area declined by 18% as central Indian farmers abandoned the crop in the wake of a glut-induced price crash since late last year.
However, Union agriculture secretary Shobhana K Pattanayak had recently told FE that the country’s foodgrain production is likely to match last year’s figure of a record 276 million tonne and the ministry would release the first advance estimate of crop production for the 2017-18 crop year (July-June) on Monday.