FARMERS ACROSS the country seem to have decided to ditch the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana (PMBFY) for the current Rabi season. Both applications and number of farmers have dipped this season with area under insurance also reporting a sharp dip.
Over the past few years, Rabi area has increased in states like Maharashtra. Better availability of soil moisture as well as lesser incidents of adverse climatic events have seen farmers increasing their area during the Rabi season. Crops like chana, masoor, mustard, wheat, moong are the main Rabi crop taken by farmers. States like Maharashtra have already passed their last date of registration, after which no new registration would be possible.
The central dashboard of the scheme shows this Rabi, 17 states have implemented the scheme as against the 19 states which had implemented in the last Rabi. Also, 57.04 lakh farmers have taken coverage for their crop as against the 98.09 lakh farmers of the last season. A total of 2.42 crore applications were received for this Rabi which is lower than the 3.25 crore applications of Rabi 2021.
A sharp dip was noticed in the area insured also, with 79.03 lakh hectares of area being insured this Rabi. During the Rabi of 2021, nearly 1.48 crore hectare of farmland was insured. A small increase was noticed in the demographics of farmers with 63.67 per cent of the farmers belonging to the Other Backward Classes. Small farmers, that is, those with land holding up to 2 hectares, formed the lion’s share of those who enrolled at 63.67 per cent. The total premium collected from farmers stood at Rs 878.88 crore.
PMBF with its low rate of premium and good coverage in face of crop loss has been a success with farmers. Thanks to the safety net provided by the scheme in terms of assured payment, farmers take the insurance during the Kharif season. In states like Maharashtra where climatic vagaries during the Rabi season is also common, farmers ensure they register for the scheme during the winter season also.
Rohan Gonge, a young farmer from Parbhani district, who also works at an ‘online services facilitation centre’, said that during Kharif season he had filled over 350 crop insurance forms including his own. Now the number stands at barely 65 as farmers are not interested in getting an insurance policy for their crops.
“I too have not insured my own crops. The major reason is that in Rabi there’s very little chance of crop damage unlike monsoon season when heavy rains or long dry spells can destroy crops. In Rabi, only hailstorm can affect crops which is rare. The second reason is that farmers did not get adequate compensation for crop damage during the Kharif. This seems to have dampened the enthusiasm about crop insurance further.”
However, delay in release of compensation has seen many farm organizations protesting against the scheme. The lower enrollment, many say, is a sign that the farmers are weaning away from the scheme. Ajit Nawale, leader of the communist-backed All India Kisan Sabha said this dip in registration is an indication of the internal flaws of the scheme.