Farmers in PM’s crop insurance scheme drop 22% this yr

Farmers under PM’s crop insurance scheme dropped 22% this year

Ever since the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was made optional for farmers from this financial year, the number of beneficiaries under the scheme has reduced by 22%. In the previous years, the scheme was compulsory for farmers who availed seasonal loans from financial institutions.

Farmer organisations say that the scheme is scamming farmers as the number of people who received insurance covers was only a handful, despite the larger number of eligible beneficiaries. Officials say that the dip in numbers is not an indication of the scheme’s popularity and was a ‘seasonal phenomenon’.

Data shows that the number of beneficiaries under the scheme reduced by around 3.2 lakh between the khariff sowing seasons of 2019 and 2020. While the total beneficiaries under the scheme was 14.2 lakh in 2019 khariff season, it has reduced to 11 lakh this year.

Cultivated area covered under the scheme was a measly 13.25 lakh hectare, compared to a high of 18.73 lakh hectares in the 2017 khariff season. In contrast, crop damage in Karnataka was suffered in around 18 lakh hectares of land during the three spells of floods this year.

During the period, the number of farmers enrolled default by loans, decreased by around 41% from 5.97 lakh to 3.55 lakh. Similarly, farmers who enrolled voluntarily also dipped from 8.22 lakh to 7.44 lakh.

Mahendra Madiwal, a farmer in Athani, Belagavi district and representative of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha, said that the insurance scheme just remained on paper.

“Less than 10% of farmers in regions affected by floods or drought get benefits,” he said, adding that the scheme has had fewer takers in the last two to three years.

‘It’s a big scam’

Citing an example from T Narsipur taluk in Mysuru district, Kuraburu Shanthakumar, president of State Sugarcane Growers’ Association, said that though thousands of farmers with small holdings enlist for the scheme, only a handful of people benefited. “It is a big scam, cheating farmers,” he alleged.

B Y Srinivas, director, Agriculture department, attributed the dip in enrolments to a seasonal phenomenon.

“More beneficiaries enrol if there is a large chance of natural disasters like floods or droughts. If the crop is expected to be bountiful, there will be fewer takers for the scheme,” he said, adding that all settlements will be completed at the earliest.