The Centre is open to making pro-farmer changes in the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in response to the recent climate crisis and rapid technological advances, according to Manoj Ahuja, Secretary, Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Ministry.
Since farming was exposed directly to such climatic catastrophes, it was important and critical to protecting the vulnerable farming community of the country from the vagaries of nature.
“As a result, the demand for crop insurance is likely to increase and, therefore, we need much more emphasis on crop and other forms of rural/agricultural insurance products to provide sufficient insurance protection to the farmers in India,” he said.
Ahuja pointed out that after the introduction of PMFBY in 2016, the scheme brought in comprehensive coverage of all the crops and perils, from the pre-sowing to post-harvest period which was not included in previous schemes of the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and modified NAIS.
He said several new fundamental features were also added during its revision in 2018, such as increasing the crop loss intimation period for farmers from 48 hours to 72 hours, keeping in mind that damage signatures disappear or were lost in case of localised calamities after 72 hours.
Similarly, post its revamp in 2020, the scheme added voluntary enrolment and inclusion of add-on cover for wildlife attacks, to make the scheme, even more, farmer-friendly.
Ahuja said the PMFBY has been facilitating the adaptation of crop insurance while addressing several challenges on the way and pointed out that the major changes made in the revamped scheme were giving more flexibility to the states for coverage of risks under the scheme and making it voluntary for all farmers to meet their long-standing demand.
He also clarified that some states have opted out of the scheme primarily due to the inability to pay their state share of premium subsidy due to financial constraints, and it must be noted that post resolution of their issues, Andhra Pradesh joined back the scheme from July 2022 onwards and it was expected that the other states were also considering to join it to provide comprehensive coverage to their respective farmers.
Ahuja said that in the era of rapid innovations, digitisation and technology are playing a significant role in scaling up the reach and operations of PMFBY with precision agriculture. Union of agri-tech and rural insurance could be the magic formula for financial inclusion, enabling trust in the scheme.