New Delhi, September 27:
The Center appears to have scored some points on the success of the recently-launched Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana — the flagship insurance scheme for farmers.
Going by the latest estimates of coverage and the sum insured it has seen a marginal increase vis-a-vis last year.“We are still compiling the numbers, but the latest number we have got is that about 3.15 crore farmers have been insured this kharif season as opposed to 3.08 crore last year. The sum insured has also increased and nearly doubled for some states. It is a big achievement as last year was a drought year and insurance was being sold till the end of the sowing season (September 30) by which time farmers knew that they would need it,”an Agriculture Ministry official told BusinessLine .
No deadline extension
As opposed to that, under the PMFBY, the deadline for insurance in most States is July 31, which was extended by ten days to August 10 this kharif as most States notified the new scheme late and the coverage was low.
“It was a one-time extension that we allowed as the scheme was new and without the extension most farmers would have been left uncovered. In the rabi season, coverage would be higher as States now know about the scheme. It is unlikely that we will extend deadlines again as it spoils the premium calculations made by insurance companies,” the official said. The older insurance schemes were not very good insurance products as they were available for such a long period that the whole concept of safeguarding against risks was defeated.
Premium for crops
“As a result, the premium paid by the farmers was much higher and the sum insured was also low as the government could not afford to insure against large amounts,” the official said.
The PMFBY, which replaced the older National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS)and the modified NAIS, seeks to provide comprehensive insurance to farmers against the vagaries of nature at very low premia of 2 per cent of the insured value for the kharif crop and 1.5 per cent for the rabi season.
More important than increased coverage under the PMFBY this kharif is the increase in the sum insured this year.“Because there is no cap on the sum insured, the entire loss to a farmers’ crop can be covered. So, the sum insured has increased significantly and for about five-six States it has actually doubled,” the official said.
The Agriculture Ministry has approached the Finance Ministry for more funds as there isa “huge increase” in government support because higher coverage would mean higher claims and higher premium charged by insurance companies.
The Centre and States share the burden of the difference between the premium chargedby the insurance company and that paid by the farmer.
The PMFBY has covered about 23 per cent of India’s farmers this kharif against a target of 30 per cent, but the coverage is likely to increase in the rabi season as States are expected to carry out bidding for insurance companies in time, the official said.
The scheme seeks to cover 50 per cent of the country’s farmers in three years.