Does India Really Provide Crop Insurance to its Farmers?

Capstone Taluk

Out of 63,652 people living in the taluk there is a drastic decline in the number of people applying for insurance from 2,800 to 421.

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal BhimaYojana, the main crop insurance scheme, has failed to provide sustenance for a lot of farmers in the ChickballapurTaluk in Karnataka. This has led to a lot of people from the villages of Machenabele and Muddenahalli villages, to look for alternate means of employment.

Mr Harish, a farmer who grows rabi crops from Machenabele said, “I have done my M.A. in Political Science.  I searched for jobs everywhere, but since I did not get any job, I thought I will pursue agriculture. I have five acres of land, in which I grow mixed vegetable crops and since three years I’m growing grapes also. For the crops sometimes I get a normal rate, sometimes I don’t get rate only. When I have a good crop I don’t get proper rate in the market, but when the crop does not fair well, the price in the market gets high.

I don’t know any information about crop insurance. If the agriculture department comes and checks our land and provides proper information about what we have to do it, will be really helpful to produce better crops. We don’t have proper water supply also here. The bore wells have dried up and now I have dug a new bore well where I got water at 1,400 feet. It will be really helpful if we were provided water through some project. If the agriculture department gives our proper information about the various schemes of crop insurance, I will also apply in the near future.”

Chickballapur is a district, which has been declared as drought district for the year 2017 – 2018, by the government of Karnataka. Crops are grown in the taluk in both the season’s kharif and rabi. Some villages grow vegetables and fruits, which are the rabi crops. Some villages grow maize, ragi, jowar etc., which are the kharif crops. In the village of Machenabele, the farmers grow rabi crops mostly and in the village the farmers grow kharif crops.

The main issue these framers face is the lack of water, due to which they are not able to produce bumper crops. The Yettinahole project, which should have given them sustainable water, has not reached them still. Thus, they have dug bore wells up to 1,500 feet, to provide water to sustain their crops. But, still due to huge water scarcity, their crops have failed them.

Mr NagendraRao, a farmer who grows kharif crops, “I grow maize, sugarcane and jowar in my 10 acres of land. Due to huge scarcity of water the crops are in the stage of failure. I had dug a bore well of 1,200 feet, but I’m not getting water as the bore well has dried up. I had applied for crop insurance last year, but I did not get the claim amount even though my crops failed. Thus this year I did not apply for it.”

In Chickballapur taluk, for the year 2017 – 2018, 2800 farmers had applied for crop insurance, but only 140 out of them were eligible for claiming the amount. Since, a lot of them were not being given the amount; the number of farmers applying for the insurance has reduced drastically. For the year 2018 – 2019 only 421 farmers from the taluk have applied for crop insurance.  When we look at the district as a whole, there is a 52% decline in the number of farmers who applied compared to the last two years. In Karnataka, last year 13, 33,153 farmers had applied for crop insurance, out of which only 38% of the  people got the claim amount. As many farmers did not receive their claim amount, even after many districts been told that they are drought hit (Davangere, Bellary etc) the number of farmers who applied this year has declined. The number of farmers who have applied for crop insurance for the year 2018 – 2019 is 12, 22,988.

The number of farmers who have enrolled for crop insurance and the number of farmers who got the claim.

Mr. Ramakrishna Reddy, a farmer said, “I grow maize and jowar. I had applied for crop insurance last year, but I did not get the claim amount even after my crops failed due to drought. So this year I did not apply for insurance, because I know that they will not give me the amount. What is the use of paying premiums even after I do not get the claim amount? I suffered a lot last year to bring both ends meet as I did not have sufficient money. Many people have taken to alternate means of employment as they are not able to sustain themselves and their family in agriculture.”

India is a country with varied geographical pattern. So when there is drought in one place there might be flood in another place in India. So in order to bring some uniformity to this structure, we are provided with various schemes, which is not reaching the people in the ground level. Then there is a great risk in agriculture as is depends on the weather of the place, the seed quality etc. Another issue seen with crop insurance is that, there is a delay in the payment of the amount by the bank, with which the farmer has insured his crop. Sometimes the farmer does not get the claim amount as only his field would have suffered a loss not everyone’s. In India crop insurance is not a personal insurance. It is given by seeing the crop production in the whole village. This is the biggest setback seen in the type of crop insurance provided by our government.

The Premium Amount

Aruna, who works at the agriculture office in the taluk said, “We only issue the forms for applying for crop insurance. We don’t collect the money here. The farmers have to pay the premium amount to the respective banks, where they have an account. Approximately we have sold 150 forms this year.”

She also added that the premium amount various from crop to crop. If the crop is maize, the farmer will get an amount of 86,000 if his crop fails. For that, he should have paid Rs. 688 and the government will pay Rs. 1720, per season.

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal BhimaYojana

The flagship scheme was introduced in the year 2016. It was an amalgamation of the various insurance schemes like National Agriculture Insurance Scheme; Weather based Crop Insurance Scheme and Modified National Agriculture Insurance Scheme. The crops that come under the scheme are food crops (cereals, millets and pulses), oilseeds, and annual horticulture crops. The farmer’s contribution to the insurance premium is 2% for Kharif crops, 1.5% for Rabi crops and 5% for annual and commercial crops. The premium amount is collected on a season basis.   The farmer has a period of two weeks to report his loss and get the premium amount.

 

The steps involved in applying for crop insurance.

Mr Prasad, who is the general manager of Pragathi Grameen Bank said, “Six villages come under our branch. Out of these six villages only two people have applied for crop insurance. Last year five people had applied and two people had got the amount. Since the others did not get, the number of people applying this year has reduced. Most of them are grape and vegetable farmers from Machenabele. They pay a premium of Rs. 13,000 per season. The farmer who got his insurance claimed last year had got Rs. 35,000 back. The others did not apply this year.”

Subramaniyum, a gram panchayat member said, “We mostly go to the agriculture department at the taluk level to pay our premium amount. We mostly don’t pay through our banks before. But this year, the agriculture department just gave us the forms. We had to submit the forms at the banks where we have an account or where we got our loan from. Most of us have not applied for insurance this year because, last year only many of our village farmers did not get the amount.”

Chickballapur taluk has a population of 2, 12,536 people according to the 2011 census.  According to the same census data there are a total number of 222 villages that come under the taluk jurisdiction. Agriculture is the main source of income for the families living here.

Mr. Vanappa, a member of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha said, “I am a member of the association, but I also have not applied for it, because I’m also not aware of it. The main reason that many farmers are not applying is the lack of awareness about the policy. The government should try to bring more awareness as to how to fill the form, what documents to take etc. Even if the farmers apply many of us do not get the claim amount. That is why many people are not applying nowadays.”

Roopa, who is the Assistant director of Agriculture, Chickballapur district said that a change should be in the scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana. The scheme does not provide a personal type of crop insurance to the farmers. If the whole village is affected by natural calamities or pest etc., only every farmer in the village will get his claim amount. If only half are affected and the other half has a normal crop, the farmer who is affected will not get the claimed amount. This is the main problem    with the scheme and the reason why have the farmers are suffering.

She also said, “We are trying to create awareness by issuing pamphlets, organising street plays, jingles etc.  The issue with the bore wells getting dried up is another major issue. For this, the farmers should start harvesting the rain water so that the ground water gets rejuvenated. There should be a collective work of the farmers and government, to solve all these issues.”

Devika, an Agriculture officer, who works in the field with farmers said, “I work with the farmers in the agriculture department. We persuade the farmers to apply for crop insurance, so that they can get at least some money even if they lose their crop. Once a farmer claims that he lost his crop, we send field officers to do crop cutting and find out if there is really any loss. If there is a huge loss, we send the data to the agriculture department to give farmers the claim.

The problem is with the yojana and no proper awareness in the farmer level. The yojana is structured in a way, that only if more than 50% farmers in a particular village faces loss, the farmer is provided with the claim amount. The yojana does not guarantee amount to individual losses incurred by farmers. This yojana is better suited for people who do monocropping, because the claim amount is given in such a way. The agriculture department declares the type of crop that should be grown in the area and only those people who face loss in that crop will get the claim amount. If the farmer grows some other crop and faces a loss and applies for claim he won’t be given the amount.

We are trying to bring changes in the policy, so that more number of farmers can be benefitted from it. And, we are trying to cover most of the villages in India so that the farmers are aware of the policy.”

Thus farmers like, Nagendra Rao, Srinivasa Reddy, Ramakrishna Reddy etc from the taluk are suffering due to the present crop insurance policy.

  • Machenabale village entrance, entering into Chickballapur taluk.
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