The new crop insurance, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, hailed as a farmer-friendly crop insurance scheme, has run into trouble in Punjab. Punjab is at loggerheads with the Centre over the effectiveness of the crop insurance scheme.
“The new scheme provides an indemnity level of 90 per cent. In Punjab, the average loss of major crops, wheat and paddy, is between two per cent and three per cent. So our farmers will not benefit from this scheme. In a written submission to the Union ministry of agriculture, the state has sought the indemnity level be raised to 95 per cent,” Punjab’s Agriculture Minister Tota Singh said.
“The scheme proposes the average crop size over the previous 10 years as the benchmark for indemnity; we have requested the Centre to consider only the previous year’s crop as a parameter. The new crop insurance is aligned to the needs of rainfed states. Punjab is never declared drought-hit and farmers are provided assistance in the form of free power to exploit groundwater to save crops. Last year, we spent an additional Rs 1,400 crore on power subsidy to agriculture to save the kharif paddy. Our annual average power subsidy to agriculture is an estimated Rs 5,000 crore, which helps us maintain the nation’s food security,” Singh added.
Weather insurance provide coverage on harvest lying in the field. In Punjab, because of the mechanical harvesting and effective transport, the harvest comes in the market in 48 hours. Punjab wants the scheme to also offer coverage for produce lying in market yards, waiting to be bought by agencies.
It also want that the insurance premium to be scaled down to one per cent. In the state, the farmers have huge debts and many cannot afford the insurance premium.