Covering the last field

Excess rains and floods in Kerala, deficit rainfall in eastern and north-eastern India, and associated large-scale crop losses have again highlighted the need for providing social protection to poor farmers. A highly subsidised Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in 2016 to provide insurance to farmers from all risks. Aiming to reduce basis risk and premium burden of the farmers, the scheme’s total expenses today are almost Rs. 30,000 crore. In comparison to earlier schemes, the PMFBY is more farmer friendly, with sums insured being closer to the cost of production. The scheme’s linkage with parallel programmes like the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ and ‘Digital India’ makes it a truly inclusive and welfare-based scheme. The scheme therefore led to increased coverage of 5.7 crore farmers in 2016 and the sum insured crossed Rs. 200,000 crore. However, notwithstanding its ambition and intent, the scheme since its operation has been scrutinised more for its misses than its hits. Some handicaps of the scheme are: outmoded method of crop loss assessment; inadequate and delayed claim payment; high premium rates; and poor execution. Consequently, in 2017, the expansive coverage of the scheme suffered some setback as seen in a drop of nearly one crore farmers in enrolment (about 17%). Such shortcomings have inspired recent announcements such as that of Bihar to start its own scheme, the “Bihar Rajya Fasal Sahayata Yojna”.

Source  :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-opinion/covering-the-last-field/article24963535.ece

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