National conference on ‘Accelerating Agriculture Insurance’ was organised in Delhi today. It was inaugurated by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of State for Agricultrure & Famers Welfare.
He said that lack of cooperation of the state governments was posing a huge challenge in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) which was conceived by the present government to provide comprehensive agriculture insurance in the country.
“Agriculture being a state subject, the states would have to come on board to iron out the glitches in the implementation of the scheme”, he said
The national conference sought to provide a platform for a candid dialogue between state governments, the private sector as well as farmer representatives on the present agriculture insurance policies, and how PMFBY is expected to unfold in future.
The Minister said that the crop insurance scheme seeks to provide umbrella insurance coverage to the farmers from sowing to harvesting and for the first time the farmers had realised its benefits, buffeted as they are with uncertainties of the market and weather conditions.
PMFBY was launched from Kharif 2016 by the Government of India and is built on the lines of ‘One Nation – One Scheme’ theme. The scheme is more farmer-friendly in comparison to earlier versions with simplified provisions and reduced premium. The farmers premium has been reduced for all food and oilseeds crops and kept at a maximum of 1.5% for Rabi, 2% for Kharif and 5% for annual horticultural/commercial crops. This has resulted in increase in coverage of area and crops.
Ashish Kumar Bhutani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, pointed out that while the PMFBY had resulted in a 74% increase in the sum insured in 2016-17 and coverage under the scheme had risen to 50% of the gross cropped area, a number of challenges still remained in its implementation.
“With a view to implementing the scheme end-to-end, the Centre had created a new portal which would be on line in the next seven to eight days. The portal would act as a platform for addressing all relevant issues, including processing of claims and delay in the provision of subsidy by states. Alongside, the Central team to oversee and monitor the scheme was being strengthened”, he said.
On the occasion, the Minister released a FICCI – Skymet knowledge paper titled ‘Accelerating Agriculture Insurance’ and an ICRIER working paper on ‘Crop Insurance in India: Key Issues and Way Forward’.
According to the knowledge paper on ‘Accelerating Agriculture Insurance’, Indian agriculture is dependent on monsoon in such a way that any deviation in the onset or departure of monsoon largely affects agricultural productivity in the entire Indian subcontinent by leaving farmers in the lurch. The vagaries of monsoon still decide the fate of farmers across the country, especially in the drought-prone regions. It is estimated that over 50% of the total population of the country is engaged in agriculture and a majority of them are still dependent on monsoonal rain for irrigation.