“ Agar Kheti mein labh hota toh kisan log khet beechte nahi, kheti karte”
“If farming was actually a profitable profession, farmers would have been practising agriculture rather than selling their lands” said a farmer sitting on the cot in the outskirts of the capital.
Farmers of Shahjahapur village, UP, brought few of the facts and realities in limelight which were otherwise concealed. Uttar Pradesh is one of the states other than Bihar, Goa, Kerala and Rajasthan which witnessed a fall in farmers enrolment in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in the year 2017-18. Total farmers insured under the scheme in Year 2017-18 were 5.01 crores. This was a reduction of 10.27% from 2016-17.
With premiums as low as 1.5% for Rabi crops and 2% for Kharif crops, why farmers eschew from the insurance scheme ? Total area insured under the scheme in Year 2017-18 was 4.89 crore hectares, with a reduction of 13.27% from 2016-17.
If something does not seem right, something must be wrong.
Farmers of district Gautam Buddha Nagar, situated on the borders of Uttar Pradesh, accentuated few of the facts which questions the reliability and efficiency of the scheme. Since the title of the article said, “ Verbatim “, keeping it such, here is a short video.
The major problems which the farmers of the village highlighted includes late returns, un-notified deduction of premium from their account including the most notorious point in the scheme which is unavailability of any receipt or letter of confirmation of the insurance.
During 2016-17, the total premium paid by Central Government was Rs. 8182.63 Crores (39.88%), the total premium paid by State Governments was Rs. 8371.98 Crores (40.81%) and the average premium paid per farmer was Rs. 3714.99, which makes a total of Rs. 20,269.6 Crores. The total claims reported were Rs. 12256.94 Crores. Insurance companies made nearly a profit of Rs. 7,000 Crore in 2016-17 with a net operating margin of 25% while farmers complained of not receiving the returns.
The total number of farmers enrolled in Kharif 2016 in UP is 34.68 Lakh. Out of this 99.87% are Loanee and 0.12% are non-loanee farmers. Majority of the pie of farmers associated with this scheme are loanee farmers, who are by default part of the scheme. PMFBY, has not been well received by non-loanee farmers, which is an indication that the insurance scheme has not been able to generate much interest amongst the farmers. Also, many small and marginal farmers do not see much benefit from taking insurance as the returns are too low for the value of claims settled.
Government and its policy is a key factor in deciding the psyche and the stability of its population, especially in a country like India, where the beneficiaries outnumber the taxpayers by a huge ratio. Is it not imperative to frame out every policy in such a manner that is true to its figure and literature dedicated to the ones, for whom it has been framed in the first place?
There are numerous schemes and policy which have been laid down to make a sanguine difference in the livelihoods and the standard of living. Different objectives for each of the policy is laid down strategically, starting with assisting farmers to develop rural economy till taking the conviction to a broader level by convolving other important subjects as food security, sustainable development, maintaining the virtue of ecology amongst others. There are times when the policy objectives do not meet the targets, such is not the case with only this developing nation but it has been experienced in the west as well. Costs involved in the developmental projects is much more than the predicted affirmative results, but the ease with which the beneficiaries will conduct the scheme shall be prioritised every time.
While framing any policy few instruments or checklist should be considered everytime, including the ease of adoption, the comparative benefits that can be drawn from the new implementation of the scheme and would the beneficiary agree to abandon or compromise with the primitive ways which he/she has been following till the time.
Inflating prices can be a sedative but not a panacea.
Hike in MSP and Loan waiving are few of the topics on the radar but the farmers need to be equipped with proper infrastructure and facilities which could help him/her to trade as a business man rather than as a peasant. Inoculating monetary assistance is not wise man’s road to success, Indian farmers needs and deserves more than that. Strengthening the farmers morally rather than monetarily is imperative and is need of the hour.
Farmers all over the world, needs hospitable environment to trade their goods and not pre- conceived prices which does not resonate with the market. Production is no more in dire straits but the market still is. Post harvest losses and un-wise return/price value for the farmer’s commodity adds up to majority of farmer’s problems. In this time, when most of the farmers are wrenched with the issues of errant rainfalls, floods, droughts, invasive pest attacks to mention a few, the govt. should rather offer them a hand as a security which can assure them, their hard work would not go in vain and in such a scenario insurance schemes like this is the appropriate and desired tool, which should be properly worked upon.