Cabinet gives nod to new agriculture insurance scheme

Wednesday 13 January 2016

The new scheme will be unable to address the existing agrarian crises, say experts


                    The scheme comes in the backdrop of consecutive droughts and crop failure due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm
Credit: Vikas Choudhary
The scheme comes in the backdrop of consecutive droughts and crop failure due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm Credit: Vikas Choudhary

The Centre has approved a new crop insurance scheme for farmers that will replace two existing agriculture insurance schemes.

The scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, was cleared at the Cabinet meeting headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The new scheme promises less premium and early claim settlement. However, experts feel that it will unable to solve the long-existing problem of timely damage assessment.

They said though lesser premium can be managed, early claim settlement can only be addressed after bringing about structural changes in crop damage assessment.

The Union Ministry of Agriculture and farmers’ welfare associations had put this proposal to which cabinet gave its nod on Wednesday. The scheme will be effective from April 1 this year.

The scheme comes in the backdrop of consecutive droughts and crop failure due to unseasonal rainfall and hailstorm. Unprecedented crop damage and flawed insurance compensation policy have dented the Modi government’s popularity in rural areas.

The two existing schemes—National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (MNAIS)—are unable to benefit farmers due to their limitations. However, the new scheme is silent on Weather-based Crop Insurance Scheme.

While NAIS covers damage from sowing till the harvesting period, MNAIS covers pre-sowing damage to post-harvest damage.

All the existing schemes are based on area-basis which is unable to benefit individual farmers who choose to insure it their crops.

There are structural flaws when it comes to assessing damaged crops. It is assessed by the local patwari of the land revenue department and on the basis of the report relief is distributed.

To pay compensation, the crop-cutting method has been adopted. Under it a particular dimension of area, possibly of 10m X 10m, is taken to measure the production in that area. But it is a slow process and takes around two years to pay up.

“There would be a possibility that farmers would get 25 per cent compensation amount in advance in affected areas and (the) rest of (the) compensation will be given after full assessment of crop cutting,” a senior revenue department officer said.

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