Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government’s flagship agriculture insurance schemes Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Weather-based Crop Insurance Scheme, which were rolled out in 2016, are yet to reach farmers in the Kashmir valley, which was hit by severe hailstorm incidents last month. The hailstorm, on September 13 and 15, made a severe crop damage and caused complete crop loss of paddy, maize and vegetables in two villages in the valley – Wata Magam and Adina villages, the Indian Express reported citing data provided by the Department of Agriculture Kashmir.
PMFBY was launched in Jammu and Kashmir from Kharif season 2016-17. However, it has only been implemented in Jammu division. The schemes – PMFBY and Crop Insurance Scheme – have covered about 87,000 farmers in 10 districts in the Jammu region, according to the report by the paper. Notably, while PMFBY is to compensate farmers for yield shortfall, Crop Insurance Scheme is for adverse weather events that cause damage during the cropping period.
Shabir Ahmad Allaqband, chief agriculture officer of Budgam, told the paper that there is no such scheme being implemented in the Kashmir valley till now. “So, all that we could do is send a report detailing the damage and seek compensation from the authorities,” he added.
The reason why the valley is yet to be covered under the scheme is the higher premium being quoted by the insurance companies. The state government has asked the insurance companies to lower rates, but insurance firms have turned down the requests citing risks of operating in the valley.
Department of Agriculture Kashmir’ director Altaf Aijaz Andrabi said that the state government floated tenders for the same eight times, but the rates quoted by the firms have been so far too high to be accepted. Even a meeting in Delhi last March with top chiefs of empanelled insurance companies to alley apprehension failed to sort out the issues.
In the Kashmir valley, paddy is grown in about 1.4 lakh hectares, with an annual production of about nine lac tonnes. However, farmers have to bear the brunt of crop failure as there is no insurance facility in the valley.
“Bids have been called in the state since 2016. But even in the last tender, the four companies that bid quoted rates only for the Jammu region,” Suhail Inamullah, Technical Officer to Director Agriculture Kashmir said. According to Altaf Aijaz Andrabi hopes that tweaking bids process under the schemes, in order to make it more attractive for insurance companies could be a solution.