Farmers Pray for Revitalised Crop Loss Insurance Scheme

Hyderabad: The arrival of the Congress in power has reinforced the hope of farmers that the state government would either launch an insurance scheme to cover crop damage or join the centrally sponsored PM Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

The BRS government had walked out of the FBY in 2020 stating that the compensation given to farmers did not amount to even 50 per cent of the premium paid by the state in the event of crop loss. It did not put in place an alternative system.

Farmer organisations had then alleged that the FBY had benefited private insurers.

“The FBY failed to properly compensate the farmers owing to collusion between officials of the agriculture department and private crop insurance companies. Hardly 33 per cent of farmers who had joined the scheme benefited,” said Sarampally Malla Reddy, vice-president of the All India Kisan Sabha. “In a sensible move, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal launched their own schemes.”

The FBY required farmers to pay 1.5 per cent of the premium in kharif and two per cent in rabi and five per cent for commercial crops. The state and central governments were to pay the rest.

M. Ramulu, a paddy farmer from Ramadugu in Karimnagar district, said that crop damage from hailstorms early last year had left him poorer by Rs 90,000, at Rs 30,000 input cost per acre on his three-acre farm.

That added to his debt burden, which went up to Rs 10 lakh. He said cost of land was Rs 20 lakh per acre. “I am contemplating selling an acre to get out of the debt,” Ramulu said. Then Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao had visited Ramadugu to inspect the damage after the hailstorm and had promised farmers an immediate payment of Rs 10,000.

G. Ravinder Reddy from Choppadandi in the same district said that the farmers did not receive a single paisa. Fellow-villager G. Komaraiah said that the BRS would have won if the government had paid the compensation.

An RTI filed before the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) by the Rythu Swarajya Vedika (RSV) on the damage caused by floods in 2022 revealed that out of 10 states, only Telangana had declined to participate in the post disaster needs assessment (PDNA). RSV activist B. Kondal Reddy said that this attitude of the BRS government had added to the hardships of farmers.

“A major pitfall in the central scheme was the failure to provide loans before the cut-off dates for paying the premium. The cut-off for kharif crop is July 31, rabi December 31 and for crops like paddy and chillies August 31. The scheme mostly involves cutting off the premium from farmers, who avail loans. But the government failed to address this lacuna,” Malla Reddy said.

“Farmers who did not borrow from institutional sources like banks were left out as bankers and agriculture officials did not collect the premium from them,” he added.

Another dampener was that the norms required crop loss to be more than 30 per cent to become eligible for getting compensation.

Instead of launching a scheme of its own, the BRS government entered into a political slugfest with the Centre, without utilising the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) funds at its disposal.

The government chose to go on appeal in the Supreme Court when the High Court ordered payment of compensation to disaster-hit farmers. The BRS government’s attitude towards the tenant farmers was outright callous, which led to an increased number of suicides. As they were not enumerated, they did not receive any compensation, Kondal Reddy said.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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