The Indian government last week made its flagship crop insurance schemes voluntary for farmers with existing crop loans or those willing to take on new ones, as it seeks to address concerns raised by farmers and states in the implementation of these programmes.
The schemes are Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS).
“The Union Cabinet has approved the revamping of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS) to address the existing challenges in the implementation of the crop insurance schemes,” an official statement said.
“With these changes, it is expected that farmers would be able to manage risk in agriculture production in a better way and will succeed in stabilising the farm income. These changes will also enable quick and accurate yield estimation leading to faster claims settlement,” the statement said.
The PMFBY was launched in February 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. It used to be mandatory for loanee farmers to acquire insurance cover under this scheme.
The PMFBY provides comprehensive crop insurance from pre-sowing to post-harvest period against non-preventable natural risks at extremely low premium rates.
Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told the media that at present, 58% of farmers are borrowers of loans.
He said that with the crop insurance schemes made voluntary, the number of farmers opting for the insurance may drop immediately but enrolment would eventually pick up.
The minister said the government would launch a campaign to create awareness among farmers about the need to have a crop insurance policy.