All over country in 2017-18 the second year of PMBY the enrollment numbers have fallen down drastically, ultimately taking the coverage even below 2015 levels.
Amresh a farmer has started working in Bengaluru as an Ola diver since the last few months. He stays in a home at Hebbal and works overtime to earn some extra money for his family. He misses his life in village and most of all he misses his one and a half year old son. However he says he doesn’t have an option. Traditionally a farmer Amresh hadn’t received his claim compensation money under Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna. He had paid his premium on time yet he hadn’t received money the past year for both Kharif and Rabi seasons.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana was started in 2016 by Narendra Modi government , replacing all existing crop insurance. The main aim of the government was to cover fifty percent of the cropped area which stands for about ninety-eight million hectare by 2018-19. However all over the country in 2017-18 the second year of PMBY the enrollment numbers have fallen down drastically, ultimately taking the coverage even below 2015 levels.
The farmers in Lingsugur taluk in Raichur district of North Karnataka are facing the same problem. The farmers have not received their claim compensation money from the concerned insurance company
Amresh dusting sweat from his forehead complains ,”I have requested the panchayat repeatedly to pay me my claim compensation but in vain. In my village out of 15,00 people only 20 people have received the claim compensation money till now.
Those twenty farmers have received 2,000 for per acre land for their farm as compensation for the loss of their crops. I wanted my one and a half year old son to study in a good school and I wanted him to become a successful doctor. Fighting all odds, I did admit my child to a private school. However when I didn’t receive the claim compensation money the previous year for both Kharif and Rabi season I was not able to pay my son’s fees. Amresh says,”The first few months I had borrowed some money from my friends and somehow I cleared my son’s fees. Eventually after two months when I couldn’t pay the fees of my son’s school anymore I had to withdraw my son from the school and had to admit him to a government school in his small village” . Since his main occupation was farming and his crops had been destroyed after drought it was becoming very difficult for him to earn livelihood for his family. He didn’t receive any money it was becoming increasingly difficult for him to continue farming. In his own village he tried for an alternative source of income. He took up many odd jobs to earn money but those petty jobs weren’t enough.
Twenty- four year old Durgappa Gowda complains about the incompetent Panchayat in village. Drops of sweat tinkling from his forehead, his hands rough from working in the field for continuously five hours laments the fact that once used to be the most cheerful village in the vicinity has lost it’s charm now. The giggling of children, laughter of teenage boys while playing cricket still rings in his ear. Dusting sweat from his forehead he sadly recalls ”I used to work as a labourer in Bengaluru but after my father died I returned to my village to take care of my farm. Since last year I have not received my claim money. Since I didn’t receive money I cannot work in my farm this season. When I complained to the A.O. he said am I going to learn my work from you? You will get your money in due time. Don’t come here and everyday and waste my time. I have things to do”. He breaks down in the middle of the conversation and says how his 5 year old son fell sick one night in the month of November and due to lack of money he couldn’t take him to hospital for treatment. He recalls how each day is a struggle for him and his family to afford meal twice a day they have to curtail the basic necessities in their life.
According to a website to http://agri-insurance.gov.in/pmfby.aspx Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana provides a comprehensive insurance cover against failure of the crop thus helping in stabilising the income of the farmers and encouraging them for adoption of innovative practices. The scheme can cover all food and oilseeds crops and Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops for which past yield data is available and for which requisite number of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCEs) will be conducted being a part of the General Crop Estimation Survey (GCES). · The scheme is compulsory for loanee farmer obtaining Crop Loan /KCC account for notified crops. However, voluntary for Other/non loanee farmers who have insurable interest in the insured crop(s). · The Maximum Premium payable by the farmers will be 2% for all Kharif Food & Oilseeds crops, 1.5% for Rabi Food & Oilseeds crops and 5% for Annual Commercial/Horticultural Crops.
Amresh is not the only one in his village facing this problem. The main occupation of Khukunti village is agriculture and almost each and every farmer in this village is facing the same problem. The problem is not only restricted to one village. In lingsugur Taluk 1,41,222 farmers have paid premium for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana .The insurance company has settled only twelve hundred claims till now. Karnataka has now proposed opening escrow accounts where insurance money can be parked for speedy settlement of claims so as to go around pendency piling up due to technical problems. An escrow account is where funds are accumulated for specific disbursement.
Since the 2016 Kharif season, as many as 47 lakh farmers enrolled for crop insurance having paid a premium of Rs 420 crore. Till date, insurance companies have settled claims totaling Rs 2165.99 crore. However, several thousands of claims made by farmers in drought-hit districts such as Bidar, Belagavi, Dharwad, Koppal, Raichur, Mandya among others remain pending, according to data tabled in the legislature by agricultural minister N.H.Shivshankara Reddy.
The sad part is out of all these farmers only one thousand two hundred claims have been settled. Remaining fourteen thousand claims are still pending .However, the concerned insurance company. The Agricultural Insurance Company is not responding to their repetitive warning either. Agricultural officer N.Malikarjun says,” We have collected premium from the farmers. We have submitted the reports too .However the delay is done by the insurance company. There is nothing we can do from our side. It’s not our fault. Due to some technical fault so much time is taken by the insurance to settle claims. Though we are hoping in some time the pending claims will be settled soon by the insurance company too”. Due to not receiving claim money the farmers are suffering huge financial losses and also immigrating to other places in search of work.
Raichur district is a draught prone area and hadn’t received proper rainfall for last two years .Due to less rainfall it has become very difficult for the farmers to grow crops such as jowhar,cotton,rice, sunflower etc. The villages in Lingsugur taluk have not received water from the Narayanpura dam because due to draught the dam had dried up too.
The problem is not limited to Raichur district only. According to an article published in a newspaper the farmers of almost the whole of Karnataka are facing this problem. Crop insurance claims amounting to Rs 339 crore made by over four lakh farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) are pending in Karnataka for the past two years for reasons including unsuccessful Aadhaar validation and erroneous bank account details.
The government of Karnataka has started Krushi Bhagya Scheme to help the farmers.. According to a website recently the Government of Karnataka had launched Krishi Bhagya Scheme exclusively for the dry-land farmers who rely on the annual rainfall for their farming. Since a majority of the Karnataka’s agricultural land (over 70 per cent) is rain-fed, farming activities on those dry lands become challenging during erratic rainfall period. To ensure irrigation for sustainable agriculture, Krishi Bhagya Scheme was started. This scheme incorporates effective rainwater conservation measures to improve productivity. The government has aided over one lakh farmers in the rain-fed areas of 131 taluks in 25 districts, extending financial assistance of ₹ 968.37 crores. The government is ambitious in revolutionising Karnataka’s agricultural sector. The implementation of the scheme primarily focuses on securing the farmer’s income by taking up on-farm rainwater conservation practices. It also encourages the farmers to adopt modern technologies for efficient use of water.
Amresh further says, ”Eventually I had to migrate to Bengaluru and then I started earning Rs 5000 a month as an Ola driver. In my absence my younger brother now manages our family farm which consists of one acre land . I occasionally come to the village to help my brother in farming”. Amresh’s younger brother’s son Praveen is a 10th standard dropout . He also helps his father and uncle in their farm. Amresh’s brother wanted a few helpers in their farm to help him with work but due to non – payment of claim money it has now become impossible for them to hire helpers. Since last year they have made at least ten rounds to the agricultural office but the officer doesn’t pay any heed to their words. Amresh’s wife has to take up the work of sewing clothes to support her family since Rs 5000 a month isn’t enough to sustain a livelihood of six members in a family. His father is a heart patient and the doctor has advised him an operation as soon as possible however due to Amresh’s meagre salary and the non- payment of claim money he has not been to arrange money for the operation”.
The farmers in lingsugur taluk are in distress due to this problem.. Most of the farmers are agitated in Mudgal, Kasba Lingsugur, Adavibhavi, Narayanpura, Jaladurga etc. The general secretary of Karnataka Gram Parishad says that farmers in Raichur district are suffering a lot due to non- payment of insurance claims. K. Narayanan of lingsugur kasba says now a days it is difficult for him to arrange lunch and dinner twice rewrite for his family .Since his crops are not doing well he says ,” I am not earning money. I have said repeatedly to the taluk officer to inquire about the insurance company about the delay in claims and how long will they take to provide me compensation but in vain.” Out of three children one had already dropped out of the school so that they can earn some extra money for his family . Narayanan adds” It is becoming very difficult to fulfill the basic needs of my family. Since the crops are not doing well and I haven’t received any compensation too I have no source of regular income. I cannot send my children to school either and if I don’t receive the insurance in next few months I will migrate to some other place and work as a daily labourer. ”
Most of the farmers in small villages such as Adi Bhavi, Mudgal, Jaldurga etc have already started migrating to Bengaluru and started working in construction sites, Ola, Uber to earn money for their family. According to the data provided by taluk officer 3,000 people have migrated from taluk last year. The general secretary of Karnataka Gram Parishad says that farmers in Raichur district are suffering a lot due to non- payment of insurance claims. K. Umesh of Bhupra village now finds it extremely difficult for him to earn livelihood for his family. Since his crops are not doing well he says ,” I am not earning money. I have said repeatedly to the taluk officer to inquire about the insurance company about the delay in claims and how long will they take to provide me compensation but in vain.” Out of three children one had already dropped out of the school so that he can earn some extra money for his family . Narayanan adds” It was becoming very difficult to fulfill the basic needs of my family. Since the crops are not doing well and I haven’t received any compensation too I have had no source of regular income. I was not able to send my children to school either and therefore I had to leave my village and go to Bengaluru in search of work. ”
In an article published in Deccan Herald Agricultural Secretary M Maheshwar Rao had said , “A large scheme like this will have technical issues, which we will surely resolve over time. To overcome delays in settlement of claims, we’ve proposed creating an escrow account with deputy commissioners” said, adding that the modalities for opening such escrow accounts were being worked out.
The Farmers in Kalai Lingsugur village had also been waiting for their claim compensation money for past two years. They have filled the application form, paid premium on time and yet haven’t received the money till now. Even the women have to work in the farms to help their husbands. The family of the farmers cannot afford meals twice a day. If they have sambar rice for lunch they have to compensate by staying hungry at night. Only 1000 people are left in the village. Most of the male members in the family have gone to work in big cities and towns, in some family women work in farms as well as take care of their children .The draught hit village looks like a haunted town and the villagers seem to be living ghosts. The loud cry of children and the quite whimpering of the women makes the quite village even more dreadful. The villagers are some how managing their life in the mist of sorrow. Lack of proper water and not receiving any claim compensation money have made the people in the village so annoyed at the Panchayat that they are planning to confront them regarding their carelessness the next month. Some of the farmers had gone and already confronted the Agricultural officer the previous month.
According to an article in scroll the government has been reluctant to put out the 2018 kharif enrolment data even several months after the end of the monsoon season. The reason for this reluctance can be found in a recent reply to a Right to Information query. As on October 10, 2018, according to the reply, enrolment was down 10% from even 2017 levels. This data does not include enrolment in Bihar, but even after data for that state is included, 2018 kharif enrolment will fall short of 2017.
Umesh now works in a construction site at Bengaluru and earns between fifteen thousand to seventeen thousand a month. The condition in Bhupra village is worse too. .The others are either searching for an alternate mode of income or are migrating to nearby places in search of work.
A professor at University of Agricultural Sciences (refused to be named) says,” The insurance companies need to be more efficient in their work. Due to their negligence the poor farmers have to suffer a lot. The system of work should be improved or the the Fasal Bima Yojana will continue to be a failure”.