Shakti Singh, a farmer having 16 acre of land in Balada village in western Rajasthan’s Pali, can’t forget the unseasonal rains in March last year which destroyed his jeera crop completely.
Thanks to the Rajasthan government’s Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) which has been in operation for the last few years, farmers like Singh could get a compensation of a maximum R27,000 for crop loss. However, his investment was at least three times the amount he got back under the insurance policy.
Another farmer from the villager, Pusha Ram Pratap, however, was not lucky enough to get compensation for the pulses he had sown as kharif crops, which were partially destroyed because of deficient monsoon rains. “The state government had announced crop insurance for only the rabi (winter) crops such as wheat, mustard and pulses,” Pratap told FE.
Farmers such as Singh and Pratap in Rajasthan are eagerly waiting for the roll-out of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) where the premia paid by farmers would be reduced to 2% of the insured value for the more rain-dependent kharif crop and 1.5% for the rabi season, compared with 3.5-8% charged for the earlier National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) & Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS).
For the current fiscal, Rajasthan has allocated R676 crore for the implementation of WBCIS, whose premium have been brought at par with PMFBY. In the last fiscal, the state had allocated R316 crore for the WBCIS.
In the case of horticultural crops, henceforth farmers’ premium burden will be 5% of the sum assured or 50% of the total premium. The premium will be shared by the Centre and the states.
Besides, the farmers in Rajasthan are also looking at the new crop insurance scheme, which entails immediate payment of 25% of the sum insured to farmers for crop damage and the use of latest technologies — drones, smartphones, mobile apps and satellite imaginary — to assess crop damages in the shortest possible time.
“Often, the compensations or insurance amount is paid months after the crop damage, thus making the crop insurance not so popular amongst the farmers in Rajasthan,” Mahaji Nayak, another farmer from the village, said. However, the Rajasthan government had earlier made it mandatory for the farmers to take crop insurance who availed Kisan Credit Cards facilities.
Meanwhile, agriculture ministry official said that many drought-hit states have increased fund allocation under PMFBY significantly. Maharashtra has allocated a higher amount of R1855 crore in the 2016-17 Budget for PMFBY, while only R725 crore was earmarked in 2015-16.
Madhya Pradesh has allocated R1,898 crore next fiscal for crop insurance, which is substantially higher than in the current fiscal. Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha have increased allocations for crop insurance. For PMFBY, finance minister Arun Jaitley had allocated R5,501 crore in 2016-17 while R2,995 crore was allocated for various crop insurance schemes in the current fiscal.
At present, only 20 million of an estimated 120 million farmers in the country — earning for a population four to five times as many — had crop insurance cover in 2014-15, even as the facility was just against the cost of cultivation and barely provided any income protection.