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Union Minister of State for Agriculture & Farmers Welfare, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said in New Delhi today that lack of cooperation of the state governments was posing a huge challenge in the implementation of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) which was conceived by the Central government to provide comprehensive agriculture insurance in the country.
Inaugurating the National conference on ‘Accelerating Agriculture Insurance’, organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Shekhawat said that agriculture being a state subject, the states would have to come on board to iron out the glitches in the implementation of the scheme. He advised FICCI to conduct brainstorming sessions on the subject in the states and come forward with recommendations on ways to bring the laggard states on a par with good performers to derive the full potential benefits of the scheme.
The national conference sought to provide a platform for a candid dialogue between state governments, the private sector as well as farmer representatives on the present agriculture insurance policies, and how PMFBY is expected to unfold in future.
The Minister said that the crop insurance scheme seeks to provide umbrella insurance coverage to the farmers from sowing to harvesting and for the first time the farmers had realised its benefits, buffeted as they are with uncertainties of the market and weather conditions.
PMFBY was launched from Kharif 2016 by the Government of India and is built on the lines of ‘One Nation - One Scheme’ theme. The scheme is more farmer-friendly in comparison to earlier versions with simplified provisions and reduced premium. The farmers premium has been reduced for all food and oilseeds crops and kept at a maximum of 1.5% for Rabi, 2% for Kharif and 5% for annual horticultural and commercial crops. This has resulted in increase in coverage of area and crops.
Ashish Kumar Bhutani, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, pointed out that while the PMFBY had resulted in a 74% increase in the sum insured in 2016-17 and coverage under the scheme had risen to 50% of the gross cropped area, a number of challenges still remained in its implementation.
For instance, many states were unable to conduct crop cutting experiments, there was lack of historical data on the insured which was jacking up premium, thereby impinging on the resources of the Centre and the states and there was delay in the release of subsidy by states. He said that it was also imperative to evolve a focused and structured dispute resolution mechanism in this regard.
Bhutani said that with a view to implement the scheme end-to-end, the Centre had created a new portal which would be online in the next seven to eight days. The portal would act as a platform for addressing all relevant issues, including processing of claims and delay in the provision of subsidy by states. Alongside, the Central team to oversee and monitor the scheme was being strengthened.
On the occasion, the Minister released a FICCI - Skymet knowledge paper titled ‘Accelerating Agriculture Insurance’ and an ICRIER working paper on ‘Crop Insurance in India: Key Issues and Way Forward’.