Crop Insurance – PMFBY, etc.

Jun, 27, 2019

[pib] Fall Army Worm

News

  • The Union Government is considering several steps to control the spread of Fall Army Worm in many states.

Background

  • Fall armyworm, first detected in maize fields in India last year, can wreak havoc across crops without timely government action.
  • Its moths were totally different from oriental armyworm.
  • This pest was known to strike once every 10-12 years.

Fall Armyworm

  • Native to the Americas, FAW has, since 2016, been aggressively moving eastwards, infesting Africa and making landfall in India last summer.
  • It propagates similar to an army that “marches” slowly forward and consumes any foliage on the way.
  • Unlike oriental armyworm, FAW isn’t a cyclical pest that comes intermittently.
  • Instead, it is a continuous pest that is nearly always present and can build permanent populations.
  • Not only is it a far more serious threat, but the measures to control the pest are also ad hoc.
  • Within India, FAW attacks have already been reported from even Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal, while causing damage to the maize, jowar (sorghum) and, to a limited extent, sugarcane crops in these states.

Why FAW are more dangerous?

  • Both oriental armyworm and FAW are polyphagous; their larvae feed on a range of host crop plants.
  • The former, though, does not spread very fast, which is why the damage from it in 2017 and even 2018 was largely confined to Karnataka.
  • The adult FAW moth, in contrast, can fly up to 100 km distance every night, allowing it to invade new geographies very quickly.
  • Besides, an adult female can lay 1,500-2,000 eggs during her entire life cycle of 45 days, as against 100-200 eggs by the oriental armyworm.

How to identify them?

  • Pheromones are natural compounds emitted by female FAW moths to attract males for mating.
  • Pheromone traps basically use synthetic versions of these compounds to attract and catch male moths, which can, then, be counted to detect any significant FAW presence.
Jan, 10, 2019

Enrolment under PMFBY crop insurance scheme sees steep decline

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: PMFBY

Mains level: Ensuring better implementation of PMFBY through additional provisions.


News

Falling Enrollment in PMFBY

  1. Data from the agriculture ministry shows that enrolment (during the rain-fed kharif season) rose from 30.9 million farmers in 2015 to 40.3 million in 2016, an impressive 30% jump.
  2. However, the enrolment fell to 34.8 million in 2017 and further plunged to 33.3 million in kharif 2018.

What led this?

  • Part of the decline was also because fewer farmers accessed fresh credit (due to a spate of farm loan waivers since mid-2017) since enrolment under crop insurance scheme is mandatory for farmers availing crop loans.

I. Insurance procedures

  1. To begin with, insurance companies are selling the product piggy backing on the banking infrastructure.
  2. For farmers availing crop loans, banks deduct the premium amount from the loan without even issuing a receipt.
  3. Farmers are never asked if they want insurance, and the product has became an easy way for banks to insure their loans.
  4. Further, in the event of any crop damage, farmers are at a loss as to whom to reach out to since most companies have not set up field offices to attend to customer complaints.

II. Assessment     

  1. Delayed assessment of crop loss and settlement of claims took six to nine months to complete led to farmers losing interest.
  2. Assessment is often delayed due to a paucity of local staff.
  3. Lack of trained outsourced agencies, scope of corruption during implementation and the non-utilisation of technologies like smart phones and drones to improve reliability of such sampling are some of the reasons.

III. Issue of Premiums

  1. A reason why insurance companies charge high actuarial premiums is that cut-off dates for enrolment are frequently extended by states, often beyond the forecast and onset dates of the annual monsoon.
  2. The litmus test of any crop insurance programme is quick assessment of crop damages and payment of claims into farmers’ accounts directly.

IV. Inadequate and delayed claim payment

  • Insurance companies, in many cases, did not investigate losses due to a localised calamity and, therefore, did not pay claims.

V.  Massive profits for insurance companies

  • CSE’s analysis indicates that during kharif 2016, companies made close to Rs 10,000 crore as ‘gross profits’.

VI. Coverage only for loanee farmers

  1. PMFBY remains a scheme for loanee farmers – farmers who take loans from banks are mandatorily required to take insurance.
  2. The percentage of non-loanee farmers availing insurance remained less than 5 per cent during kharif 2016 and 2015.
  3. Like previous crop insurance schemes, PMFBY fails to cover sharecropper and tenant farmers.

VII. Institutional Bottlenecks

  1. There has been no concerted effort by the state governments and insurance companies to build awareness of farmers on PMFBY.
  2. Insurance companies have failed to set-up infrastructure for proper implementation of PMFBY.
  3. There is still no direct linkage between insurance companies and farmers. Insured farmers receive no insurance policy document or receipt.

What needs to be done?

A New Delhi based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment has released series of recommendations to improve implementation of the insurance scheme:

  • Coverage of tenant and sharecropper farmers should increase.
  • Coverage of all important crops should be covered under crop insurance
  • Instead of threshold yield, ‘Potential yield’ should be used for crops
  • Damage caused by wild animals, fire, cold waves and frost to crops should also be considered at the individual level.
  • Damage caused by unforeseen weather events like hailstorms should also be included in the category of post-harvest losses.
  • Farmers must be informed before deducting crop insurance premium. They must be given a proper insurance policy document, with all relevant details.
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions and farmers need to be involved at different stages of implementation.
  • Sum insured should not be less than scale of finance and/or cost of production.
  • Incorporating technology such as remote sensing, drones and online transmission of data.
  • All PMFBY related data related to farmers must be available in the public domain and shared openly with farmers.
  • Robust scheme monitoring and grievance redressal mechanism should be in place.

Way Forward

  1. In an era of climate change, a universal, subsidised agriculture insurance is crucial to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of farmers.
  2. But we need a farmer-friendly, fair and transparent agriculture insurance.
  3. An agriculture insurance driven by profit-motives will do more harm than good.
  4. Policymakers should improve the provisions and implementation of PMFBY and make it a truly effective scheme.

With inputs from: Down to Earth

Oct, 09, 2018

Crop damages in animal attacks put under PMFBY on pilot basis

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Mains level: Ensuring better implementation of PMFBY through additional provisions.


News

Context

  • The Union government has decided to cover damages to crops in wild animal attacks under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna in select districts on an experimental basis.

New Provisions to the PMFBY

  1. Several parliamentarians have been raising this issue from time to time and demanding insurance cover for damages to the crops in animal attacks under the Centre’s scheme.
  2. The government has also brought under the PMFBY ambit certain horticultural crops on an experimental basis, the minister said.
  3. Damages to individual or limited number of cultivators in localised events like water logging, land slide, hailstorms etc did not fall under the ambit of PMFBY scheme earlier.
  4. However they too are being covered now under new provisions.
  5. Now damages to the individual fields due to incidents of local disasters like cloud bursts and fire too are being taken up now for insurance claims.

Easing Insurance Claims settlements

  1. The amended provisions for the scheme also stipulate fines in cases of delay in clearing the insurance claims for crop damages.
  2. In case a firm now delays the clearances beyond two months, it will have to pay an annual interest of 12 per cent.
  3. Similarly the state government too will have to pay an interest of 12 per cent in case of delay in release of state’s share of subsidy in premium to insurance firms.
  4. The insurances firms will also have to spend 0.5 per cent of their earnings from annual premium to advertise the provisions of the PMFBY among the peasants.

Back2Basics

Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY)

Navigate to this page for detailed reading on PMFBY.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – Min Premium, Max Insurance

Sep, 19, 2018

[pib] New operational guidelines for Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Mains level: Ensuring better implementation of PMFBY through additional provisions.


News

New Provision against Delay in Settlement

  1. The Government has decided to incorporate the provision of penalties for States and Insurance Companies for the delay in settlement of insurance claims under the PMFBY.
  2. The farmers will be paid 12% interest by insurance companies for the delay in settlement claims beyond two months of prescribed cut-off date.
  3. State Governments will have to pay 12% interest for the delay in release of State share of subsidy beyond three months of prescribed cut-off date submission of requisition by insurance companies.
  4. The guidelines also detail a Standard Operating Procedure for evaluation of insurance companies and remove them from the scheme if found ineffective in providing services.

Insuring Horticulture Crops

  1. The Government has also decided to include perennial horticultural crops under the ambit of PMFBY on a pilot basis.
  2. The scheme as per the new guidelines provides add on coverage for crop loss due to attack of wild animals, which will be implemented on a pilot basis.
  3. Aadhaar number will be mandatorily captured to avoid duplication of beneficiaries.

Insuring more Non-loanee Farmers

  1. The insurance companies are given a target of enrolling 10% more non-loanee farmers than the previous corresponding season.
  2. They will have to mandatorily spend 0.5% of gross premium per company per season for publicity and awareness of the scheme.

Settlement of Claims

  1. The much demanded rationalization of premium release process has been incorporated in the new guidelines.
  2. As per this, the insurance companies need not provide any projections for the advance subsidy.
  3. Release of upfront premium subsidy will be made at the beginning of the season based on 50% of 80% of total share of subsidy of corresponding season of previous year as GOI/State subsidy.
  4. Balance premium will be paid as a second installment based on the specific approved business statistics on the portal for settlement of claims.
  5. Final installment will be paid after reconciliation of entire coverage data on portal based on final business statistics. This will reduce the delay in settling the claims of farmers.

Back2Basics

Pradhan Mantri Fasal BimaYojana (PMFBY)

  • Navigate to this page for detailed reading on PMFBY.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana – Min Premium, Max Insurance

Sep, 17, 2018

[op-ed snap] Covering the last field

Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Issues related to direct & indirect farm subsidies & minimum support prices

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Mains level: Role of smallholders in Indian agriculture and what measures can be taken to reduce vagaries faced by them


Context

Need of social support for farmers

  1. Excess rains and floods in Kerala, deficit rainfall in eastern and north-eastern India, and associated large-scale crop losses have again highlighted the need for providing social protection to poor farmers
  2. A highly subsidised Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was launched in 2016 to provide insurance to farmers from all risks
  3. In comparison to earlier schemes, the PMFBY is more farmer-friendly, with sums insured being closer to the cost of production
  4. The scheme’s linkage with parallel programmes like the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’ and ‘Digital India’ makes it a truly inclusive and welfare-based scheme

Few drawbacks of PMFBY

  • Outmoded method of crop loss assessment
  1. The methodology deployed for crop loss assessment is the crop cutting experiments (CCEs)
  2. CCEs are periodic exercises conducted nationwide every season to determine crop yields of major crops
  3. Sample villages are chosen through scientifically designed surveys, and crops are physically harvested to determine yields
  4. These experiments require huge capital and human resources and have to be done simultaneously all over India in a limited time & thus, they have large errors
  • Inadequate and delayed claim payment
  • High premium rates
  • Poor execution

Improving PMFBY

In order to make the PMFBY a sustained developmental action for a comprehensive climate risk protection for every Indian farmer, the following action points are suggested

  • Faster and appropriate claim settlement
  1. Timely estimate of loss assessment is the biggest challenge before the PMFBY
  2. To improve the efficacy of the PMFBY, technology use must be intensified
  3. With detailed weather data, remote sensing, modelling and big data analytics, the exercise of monitoring crop growth and productivity can be not only more accurate and efficient but also resource saving
  4. Hybrid indices, which integrate all relevant technologies into a single indicator, are good ways to determine crop losses
  5. The whole process of monitoring can be made accessible and transparent to farmers, policy-makers and insuring agencies alike through an online portal
  6. Immediate claims settlements can be made once this is linked to the process of direct benefit transfers
  • Universal and free coverage for all smallholders
  1. To increase insurance coverage we should think of a system whereby farmers do not need to enrol themselves and every farmer automatically gets insured by the state
  2. This will provide social protection to every farmer if the full premium of smallholders is also paid by the state
  3. Currently, farmers pay a capped premium rate of 1.5-2%, while the rest is shared equally between the States and the Centre
  4. At this rate, if today all 14 crore farmers were to be insured under the PMFBY, they would need to pay the premium close to ₹10,000 crore annually
  5. If no premium is charged from marginal and small farmers (who own less than 2 hectares and account for 12 crore out of 14 crore) and only partial subsidy on actuarial premium is given to others, almost the same revenue can be collected, but in the process, coverage can go up almost 100%
  6. Such differential subsidies are already applicable in urban areas for water and electricity
  • Improved and transparent insurance scheme design
  1. Insurance companies are supposed to calculate actuarial rates and the rates quoted by companies for the same region and for the same crop vary from 3% to more than 50%
  2. One reason for such inflated premiums is lack of historical time series of crop yields at the insured unit level
  3. To minimise their risks caused by missing data and to account for other unforeseen hazards, insurance companies build several additional charges on pure premium
  4. The premium rates, and hence subsidy load on the government, can come down significantly if we make greater use of such proxies and appropriate sum insured levels

Way Forward

  1. The government today spends more than ₹50,000 crore annually on various climate risk management schemes in agriculture, including insurance
  2. If the above mentioned comprehensive social protection scheme is implemented, there would be opportunities for further rationalisation of subsidies
  3. By doing this resources can be better utilised to propel farm growth
Aug, 16, 2016

Drones better than satellites to gauge crop loss, says panel

  1. Context: A committee has been set up by NITI for studying how unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can be used in crop insurance schemes
  2. UAVs work better: Drones trump the satellite technology for such purposes
  3. Why? The ideal alternative is to gather data from low heights (below the cloud) and at very high resolution where aerial photography or UAVs score over all available alternatives
  4. Current satellites: Which have even better than 10m spatial resolution would not be sufficient due to their non-availability during cloud cover, limited revisit possibility during the crop season and high price
  5. Sharing cadastral (land’s location, ownership, tenure) details, Aadhaar card and bank account details is mandatory for effective crop insurance policies
  6. Farmer field coordinates be made mandatory for issuance of insurance policy
  7. Why? Help in tracking the crop field throughout the crop season without much ground monitoring, and, any kind of loss can readily be verified from satellite data
Jul, 06, 2016

Govt approves interest subvention scheme for crop loan

  1. Scheme: The Central Government will provide interest subvention of 5% per annum to all farmers for short term crop loan up to one year for loan up to Rs 3 lakh borrowed by them during the year 2016-17
  2. Farmers will thus have to effectively pay only 4% as interest
  3. Eligibility: Applicable for all farmers availing short-term crop loans up to Rs 3 lakh for one year
  4. For: Public and private sector banks, in addition to cooperative banks, regional rural banks and NABARD for providing short term crop loan to farmers
  5. Quick facts: Government has set an agricultural credit target for banks at Rs 9 lakh crore for the current fiscal, up from Rs 8.5 lakh crore 2015-16
  6. The interest subvention scheme was earlier implemented by the Finance Ministry but it was transferred to the Agriculture Ministry this year
Mar, 21, 2016

Prime Minister to meet banks, insurance companies on crop insurance

  1. Context: The govt’s thrust on crop insurance scheme after drought, unseasonal rains and hailstorms last year
  2. News: PM will meet top officials of all banks and insurance companies to discuss the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Beema Yojana
  3. Background: Last year, the state govts sought over Rs.10,100 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund to manage agrarian crisis
  4. Agenda: To bring more loanee farmers under the crop insurance scheme so that the target of 50% is achieved and more farmers take up insurance coverage
  5. Statistics: Currently, about 25% the total crop area of 194.40 million hectares is being insured
Jan, 14, 2016

Cabinet approves Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

  1. The Union Cabinet has approved the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana, a path breaking scheme for farmers’ welfare.
  2. There will be a uniform premium of only 2% to be paid by farmers for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops.
  3. The premium amount is capped at 5% for horticulture and annual commercial crops.
  4. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by the govt to provide full insured amount to the farmers against crop loss on account of natural calamities.
  5. There is no upper limit on govt subsidy, even if balance premium is 90%, it will be borne by the govt.
  6. The govt liability on premium subsidy would be shared by the Central and State governments on a 50:50 basis.
  7. Smart phones will be used to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce the delays in claim payment to farmers.
  8. The govt. expects the scheme to help increase the insurance coverage to 50% from the existing level of about 25-27% of crop area.
Jan, 11, 2016

New farm insurance scheme

The move is an attempt to stem rural distress as farmers are facing three successive crop failures due to inclement weather conditions.

  1. Rate of premium will be about 1/10th of existing rates. Currently farmers are paying as high as 25% which is not affordable for marginal farmers.
  2. It will help cover about half of all farmers in the next 3 years.
  3. Also put to use mobile phones to assess crop yields and cut down payout delays.
  4. Low penetration of crop insurance schemes, lack of awareness coupled, high premium rates and lower claim payments are the major concerns before the government.
Jan, 11, 2016

Govt set to launch new crop insurance scheme

An Indian farmer sprays pesticide on his mustard crop in Mayong village, outskirts of Gauhati, India, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Agriculture is the main livelihood of about 60 percent of India's 1.2 billion people.(AP Photo/ Anupam Nath)

The Centre is set to roll out a new Crop Insurance Scheme through which it will bring down rate of premium to be paid by farmers, govt will pay the rest.

  1. The maximum premium to be paid by farmers will be 2.5% of the sum insured.
  2. Currently, farmers have to pay premium ranging between 4-15% to insure crops.
  3. The proposal also envisages a cap of 5% on premium a farmer has to pay to get horticulture crops insured.
  4. Once the new scheme kicks in, farmers in high-risk areas would stand to benefit the most.
Dec, 18, 2015

Centre contemplating launch of insurance scheme for farmers

‘Agriculture sector is facing a lot of challenges due to recurrent droughts and floods’

  1. Agriculture sector is facing a lot of challenges due to recurrent droughts, floods and weather-related changes.
  2. At present, one third of global production is lost or wasted annually which is enough to feed two billion people for a year.
  3. Around 800 million people in the world suffer from hunger and undernutrition remains widespread with some 2 billion people lacking essential nutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin A.
  4. According to a U.N.’s FAO estimate, world food production must rise 60 per cent to keep pace with the demographic change.
  5. Whereas the International Panel on Climate Change predicts that crop yields may decline by 10-20 per cent by 2050.
Dec, 16, 2015

TNAU uses satellite images for crop management

Images and data deciphered there from will help the State Government frame policies and farmers get precise inputs and quick disbursement of crop insurance.

  1. Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU), Coimbatore, calculated how much cultivated area was inundated, soon after the recent rains hit hard.
  2. University’s quick assessment and communication to State Government, using images obtained from European Space Agency’s Sentinel 1A satellite.
  3. The University’s access to the satellite images follows a tie-up under the Remote Sensing Information for Insurance on Crops in Emerging Economies project.
  4. The University uses the images to identify crops, estimate area of cultivation, prepare seasonality map, phenology map and yield map.
Apr, 22, 2015

Two risks that haunt agriculture - Weather & Prices

  1. Still, less than 20% of the Indian farmers are covered by crop insurance.
  2. Somehow, the Indian psyche cannot seem to accept paying the insurance premium that would be foregone should no adverse event take place.
  3. It is also true that most poor people cannot afford even the lowest premium for insurance.
  4. And imagine it this way – a staggering 70% of the junta which depends on Agriculture wakes up everyday facing risk & uncertainty.
  5. As Indian agriculture will have to adopt new and expensive technologies to counter climate change, insurance cover becomes even more critical.
  6. Narendra Modi government needs to be applauded for trying to introduce a market-based farm income insurance scheme combined with weather-based crop insurance products that will replace the ad hoc grants.
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