New Delhi: The government Wednesday made its flagship crop insurance schemes voluntary for farmers with existing crop loans or those willing to take new ones, as it seeks to address the concerns raised by farmers’ bodies and states in implementation of these programmes.
“The Union Cabinet has approved revamping of ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)’ and ‘Restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme (RWBCIS)’ to address the existing challenges in implementation of crop insurance schemes,” an official statement said.
Under the PMFBY, which was launched in February 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it is mandatory for loanee farmers to take 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 rate of two per cent for kharif crops, 1.5 per cent for rabi crops and five per cent for horticulture and commercial crops.
The Cabinet approved modification of certain parameters/provisions of ongoing PMFBY and RWBCIS schemes.
“Enrolment under the scheme to be made voluntary for all farmers (both PMFBY/ RWBCIS),” Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar told reporters here. He said currently 58 per cent of total farmers are loanee and the remaining 42 per cent are non-loanee. The number of farmers opting for these crop insurance schemes may drop immediately but the enrollment would eventually pick up, Tomar said.
The minister informed that the government would launch a campaign for creating awareness among farmers about the need to take a crop insurance policy. These modifications will help in addressing the concerns raised about the PMFBY scheme by farmers’ organisations and states, he said.
Among other modification, Tomar said the allocation of business to insurance firms through tender process would be done for three years as against the current policy of one to three years.
“Central share in premium subsidy to be increased to 90 per cent for north eastern states from the existing sharing pattern of 50:50 (Both PMFBY/RWBCIS),” the statement said.
Tomar said states will not be allowed to implement these schemes in subsequent seasons in case of considerable delay in release of requisite premium subsidy to insurance companies beyond a prescribed time limit. Cut-off dates for invoking this provision for Kharif and Rabi seasons will be 31st March and 30th September of successive years, respectively.