523,000 hectares in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh affected by untimely rains in March, April
Unseasonal and heavy rainfall in the last two months has destroyed standing crops in many parts of the country. At this time, the Centre’s flagship crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), should provide some relief to the distressed farmers who have lost their crops and incomes.
However, the scheme is not inspiring much confidence among many farmers, especially given their previous experiences in getting claims.
Ghisa Ram from Rajasthan’s Nagaur district planted wheat and mustard on nine hectares. He lost 7.6 ha of crops in February this year due to heavy rains. He applied for compensation under PMFBY in the same month by uploading photos and videos of damaged crops but has not received a single rupee to date.
“I asked the bank just today if there was any progress on my application, but there was nothing. Many farmers like me need money for sowing the Kharif crop,” said Ram, a farmer from Rampura village.
Ideally, the income from selling wheat and mustard would be used in preparing the land for the next crop, but now farmers will have to take a loan for that, Ram added.
His approximate cost of production on the two crops was Rs 1,40,000 for 9 ha. And he estimated he would have earned around Rs 3,00,000 if the crop had been harvested.
Ram added he is not very hopeful about getting compensation under PMFBY, considering he has not received any money to date for his green gram crop that got damaged in October 2022.
Media reports suggested that around 523,000 ha of farmland in just three states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh was affected by untimely rains.
The PMFBY was launched in 2016 and insures farmers against all non-preventable natural risks from pre-sowing to post-harvest.
Farmers have to pay a maximum of two per cent of the total premium of the insured amount for Kharif crops, 1.5 per cent for Rabi food crops and oilseeds, as well as 5 per cent for commercial / horticultural crops. The balance is shared by the central and state governments on a 50:50 basis and 90:10 in the case of northeastern states.
The government appoints an insurance company, selected through bidding, to insure farmers in a cluster of districts against crop losses due to weather events, pest attacks, or fire as part of the scheme.
At the start of each season, the state government notifies the threshold yield of individual crops in each insurance unit, calculated based on the average yield of the past seven years. The notification also mentions the sum insured for individual crops in insurance units.
Despite the severity of crop loss due to extreme weather events increasing in recent years, the number of farmers opting for crop insurance has been declining and even state governments like Bihar, Telangana, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Gujarat have opted out of the scheme after implementing it for some seasons.
Farmer Parsa Ram, who is also the chief executive of Molasar Sarvodaya Kisan Samruddhi Producer Company Ltd, a farmer producer company (FPC), said he and many other farmers have personally opted out of the scheme after several failed attempts to get compensation for damaged crops in the past.
Meanwhile, in Maharashtra, where losses have been reported over 66,000 ha, farmers have faced similar issues with accessing compensation still pending from last year’s crops damaged crops.
“This year, too, the onion crop got damaged. But I am still waiting for compensation for last year’s tomato crop, which was destroyed last April,” said Ankush Gholap from Pune’s Rohokadi village.
According to the information given by the government in Lok Sabha on March 28, 2023, some 62.3 million farmer applications have been received under PMFBY, of which Rs 20,594 crore claims have been paid in claims, as on February 28, 2023.
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