Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal who has been taking up the issue of farmers from time to time, has emerged as a champion for their cause with the Centre recently announcing a new crop insurance scheme which has lowest premium for farmers. Apart from taking his own initiatives at the state level Badal, who has risen from grass roots to become a statesman of farmers, has prevailed upon the centre to take some fresh measures to give much needed relief to the debt-ridden farmers.
It was only last year that Badal had requested the Union government to broaden the purview of Crop Insurance Scheme which was announced by the union government so that the small and marginal farmers could also benefit. Badal had suggested the centre to make changes in a few provisions of the scheme to make it more conducive for the farmers so they are adequately compensated for the damage caused to the crops due to climate and other natural disasters.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), imbibing interest of Punjab farmers
In fact many see the stamp of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s suggestions in the recently announced Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), which is a new Rs.17,600-crore crop insurance scheme for farmers all over the country. Aimed at covering the loss of crops due to natural calamities like drought at a very low premium pay out by farmers, the scheme is expected to benefit debt ridden farmers of Punjab in a big way, apart from the peasant community in other states. The scheme will be rolled out from the coming kharif season starting June.
How the farmers will benefit
As per the scheme, the Centre will provide Rs.8,800 crore annually to make up for almost all of the premium for the crop insured. Besides, the state will also provide a matching contribution. Farmers will however have to pay only 2 % of the premium fixed by the insurance company for kharif food grains/oilseeds crops and 1.5 % for rabi food grains/oilseeds crops. For horticultural and commercial crops for both seasons, the premium has been fixed for 5%.
The Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with whom Badal shares a close association, while announcing the scheme has stated that the scheme is expected to bring about a major transformation to lives of farmers. The scheme includes successful aspects of the existing schemes and “effectively addresses” whatever was lacking in earlier schemes, he has added.
Apart from having the lowest premium, the scheme provides easy usage of latest technology like mobile phone, quick assessment of damage and disbursement within a given time frame. Farmers can easily subscribe the scheme and get benefit.
The other important aspect of the scheme is that there is no provision of capping the premium rate so as to ensure farmers get a higher claim against the full sum insured. A minimum of 25% claim is to be settled directly on farmers’ bank account, which would help them counter financial uncertainties.
The scheme will help individual small and marginal farmers to get full compensation in case of crop damage.
The farmers can get claims quickly by using smart mobile phone technology to click pictures of the crop damage and upload them on the crop insurance portal.
The Centre will allocate 90% of the funds as against the earlier provisions where centre and state had to contribute equally.
Even those farmers who have not applied for crop loans will be eligible for insurance.
The insurance companies will have to settle claims within 30 days.