Farm ministry open to pro-farmer changes in PMFBY in response to climate change


New Delhi: Union ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare on Thursday said it was open to undertaking pro-farmer changes in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in response to climate change and technological advances.

Union agriculture secretary Manoj Ahuja said farming is vulnerable to climate catastrophes. “It is important and critical to protect the vulnerable farming community of the country from the vagaries of nature. As a result, demand for crop insurance is likely to increase. Therefore, we need more emphasis on crop and other forms of rural/agricultural insurance products to provide sufficient insurance protection to the farmers in India.”

Ahuja added that in era of rapid innovations, digitization and technology play a significant role in scaling up the reach and operations of PMFBY with precision agriculture. “Union of Agri-Tech and rural insurance can be the magic formula for financial inclusion, enabling a trust in the scheme. Recently introduced Weather Information and Network Data Systems (WINDS), Yield Estimation System based on Technology (YES-Tech), Collection of Real Time Observations and Photographs of Crops (CROPIC) are some of the key steps taken under the scheme to bring in more efficiency and transparency. To address farmer grievances in real time, an integrated help line system is under beta testing in Chhattisgarh.”

He said that in the last six years, only 25,186 crore was paid by farmers while 1,25,662 crore was paid to the farmers against their claims, with central and state governments bearing most of the premium under the scheme. “It is to be noted that the acceptability of the scheme has increased among the farmers in last 6 years, with share of non-loanee farmers, marginalized farmers and small farmers increasing by 282% since the initiation of the scheme in 2016.”

Instances of weather uncertainties such as thunderstorms, cyclones, droughts, heat waves, lightening, floods and landslides, along with heavy untimely rains, have risen in the recent past.

“World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2022 categorizes extreme weather risk as the second largest risk over next 10 years period. Such sudden shifts in weather patterns are capable of adversely impacting our country, where the responsibility to feed world’s 2nd highest population lies solely on the shoulders of the agriculture community. Therefore, it becomes imminent to provide a safety net to the farmers to protect their financial position and encourage them to continue farming and ensue food security,” Ahuja said.

PMFBY is currently the largest crop insurance scheme in the world in terms of farmer enrolments, averaging 5.5 crore applications every year and third largest in terms of premium received. The scheme promises minimal financial burden on the farmer, with farmers paying only 1.5% and 2% of total premium for rabi and kharif season, respectively, with Centre and state governments bearing most of the premium, according to agriculture ministry.

During the arduous seasons of 2017, 2018 and 2019 marred by weather extremities, the scheme proved to be a decisive factor in securing livelihoods of farmers wherein claims paid ratio in several states averaged more than 100 % against the gross premium collected, the ministry added.

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