The government will soon launch a more farmer-friendly crop insurance scheme to maximise benefits under the Pradhan MantriFasalBimaYojana (PMFBY), said agriculture minister Narendra Singh Tomar.
“We have seen few shortcomings in the present scheme. We have invited suggestions from states to make it more farmer friendly. The aim of this scheme is just to maximise benefits to farmers and cover their risks,” Tomar said.
The minister said the Centre is expecting feedback and suggestions from states this month, after which the scheme would be suitably modified. “We have not fixed any timeline for the new guidelines. Kharif season is on. We can’t say now whether it will be implemented in the coming Rabi season even. But whenever it gets implemented, it will be more comprehensive. Deliberations are on and we will try to remove all the shortcomings,” he said.
The government is evaluating making this scheme voluntary for farmers while introducing a risk-pooling system wherein government will have more control right from deciding the premium to fixing payouts. “This is just one of the options we are mulling over. Insurance companies would only have administrative role in implementing the programme,” said a senior agriculture department official involved in framing new rules for PMFBY.
He said in the risk-pooling system, government would create an agency which will fix crop premiums and payouts while controlling insurance companies would only be restricted to administrative functioning against a fixed charge. “This will eliminate the misnomer that private insurance companies are making money from this scheme. Companies will be given fixed charge and the entire risk will be transferred to the agency,” he said.
He said the Centre has also sought inputs from states about removing high premium crops from the ambit of crop insurance and suggested a premium ceiling at 25% if irrigated area within a crop is more than 50% and 30% premium cap if irrigated area within a crop is less than 50%.
Assessment of crop yields
Currently, farmers have to pay a uniform premium of 2% for kharif and 1.5% for rabi crops. For commercial and horticultural crops, farmer’s contribution is 5%. The government pays the balance premium.
The ministry has also proposed a twostep process of assessing crop yields required for calculating the extent of crop damage. First is elimination based on weather and other triggers, and the second step is crop cutting experiments (CCEs) in affected areas. Currently, plots for conducting CCEs are selected randomly leading to dissatisfaction among stakeholders.
“We are roping in specialised agencies that can use satellites, remote-sensing data, unmanned aerial vehicles and artificial intelligence to assess crop yield estimates at the panchayat level, reducing delays in crop insurance claim settlements,” the official said.