Crop insurance

India is an agrarian country meaning that agriculture is the mainstay of our economy. Real India is in her villages is what we have been hearing since childhood. This is the truth and the greater truth is that India will be prosperous in reality only when our villages are prosperous. However, it has to be remembered that agricultural science has immensely changed and improved in western developed countries because they have given up the old and obsolete methods of farming and adopted new and scientifically very productive methods. We have many agricultural universities in our country, two in our State, and a great deal of research work is underway at these universities. Notwithstanding that, we need time bound research work which should not be necessarily an imitation of the west but suited to Indian climatic and environmental conditions. Our peasants and labourers connected with agrarian activities are not adequately educated or even literate. It becomes difficult to make them understand the importance of technology as the new instrument of agrarian pursuit. It is so because they are steeped in tradition and are reluctant to come out of the old mindset. However, owing to compulsions of contemporary times, there is no avoiding the impact of scientific agriculture and by and large, through the instrumentality of various actors, our peasants are pandering to scientific agriculture.
India is a tropical country. The success of our crops depends on rains. If we have good monsoons, we will have bumper harvests. But failure of monsoons is a clear threat that we may be face to face with draught. Millions of people and cattle are affected by draught. The Government has to be prepared year after year to meet any exigency on this count. Rains are not assured and though other means of irrigating farms and fields are pressed into service yet that cannot match the quantum of rain water we need for farming purposes. There was once a proposal of interlinking major rivers of India with the sole objective of bringing in water security to the agriculture in the country. Owing to short sighted political interests that scheme did not work and had to be abandoned.
Our peasantry is faced with a curious problem. Owing to failure of crops, our farmers, having no other source of income, are unable to withstand the hunger and suffering of their family members. Many of them resort to extremely unacceptable decision of committing suicide. In particular this tragic practice has been followed in some parts of southern India. Despite many steps taken by the concerned Governments the threat of oppressed farmers committing suicide remains in place. Therefore, the Central as well as the State Government are deeply concerned. One of the remedies on which the Government focused was that of insuring the crops against failure of rains. There have been some enactments in this regard like the existing two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme as well as Modified NAIS. However it was found that both of these schemes have had some inherent drawbacks and did not really serve the purpose for which these were designed.
The Modi Government has now brought in a new scheme called Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) that is now cleared by the Cabinet at a meeting, headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This scheme will replace the existing two schemes stated above. The new crop insurance scheme will have premiums as low as 1.5 per cent of the sum insured. It will charge a uniform premium of two per cent of the sum insured from farmers for all kharif crops and 1.5 per cent for rabi crops. For horticulture crops, the annual premium will be five per cent of the sum insured. The balance premium would be paid by the Government to the insurance companies. This would be shared equally by the Centre and State Governments. For the Centre, there would be no upper limit on the subsidy and even if the balance premium is 90 per cent, it would provide for the same.
The Prime Minister said the scheme would bring about “a major transformation” to farmers’ lives. The scheme has the lowest premium; it entails easy usage of technology like mobile phone, quick assessment of damage and disbursement within a time-frame and many more advantages. BJP led states have welcomed the new insurance scheme. The new scheme is much simpler compared to earlier programmes and that the farmers can now avail more benefits.

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