5 years of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana

Narendra Singh Tomar
India is an agrarian country and any losses to the livelihood of farmers due to weather vagaries during the crop cycle, makes it almost impossible for farmers to protect their crops against unforeseen natural calamities. In such circumstances, it is necessary to provide a comprehensive risk mitigation solution in the form of  insurance to protect the farming community from the impact of these events. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) was  approved on 13 January 2016 in accordance with the One Nation - One Scheme, giving high priority to protect farmers from crop losses and improve  the  shortcomings in the existing crop insurance schemes.
In April 2016, the scheme was launched under the leadership of the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, with the objective of providing speedy payment of claims to farmers. These modifications made in the scheme were farmer-friendly with features such as uniform minimum premiums rates, transparency, widespread use of technology for claims assessment and ease of enrolment with a robust grievance redressal system.
The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is being constantly modified by the Govt of India,  keeping farmer interest in mind and giving flexibility to the States. Enrolment under the scheme is now voluntary for all farmers and in order to establish a continuous communication with the farmers,the Insurance Companies have been allocated longer tenure of three years. Extensive communication and awareness level at block level has been carried out in order to  increase coverage and an amount of 0.5% of the gross premium has been earmarked by the insurance companies. The sum insured has been made equal to the crop production value, thereby ensuring adequate payment of crop losses to the farmers in line with the loss impact. Additionally, the States / UTs have been given the option to choose add-on risk covers. To encourage increased participation, the Government of India has increased the subsidy to 90:10 for North Eastern States from the earlier pattern of 50:50.
Considering the challenge of connecting crores of farmers and extensive span of 1.7 lac bank branches and 44 thousand CSCs (public service centers) ,the National Crop Insurance Portal has been developed and is being integrated with land records of the States. The National Crop Insurance app is enabling easy enrolment for farmers right from their doorstep.
Since 2017, the implementation of mandatory Aadhaar based verification brought in more transparency in the scheme and farmers received claims directly into their bank accounts. This revolutionary initiative has helped removing fake beneficiaries and helped in time-bound claims settlements.
The farmers have received more than five times the claim amount, against premium of Rs 16,000 crore till Kharif 2019, the farmers have received claims worth Rs 86,000 crore , for eg for every Rs. 100 the farmers paid as premium, they have received Rs. 537 as claims.
The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is supporting farmers in making them self-sufficient by giving timely compensation to them in the event of crop loss. During this 5 year journey, 29 crore farmers’ applications have been insured with more than 5.5 crore farmers enrolling in the scheme on a year on year basis. Over 90,000 crore have been paid to the farmers as claims under this scheme. As against the previous crop insurance scheme, the insurance amount has increased from Rs 15,100 per hectare to Rs 40,700 per hectare. The share of non-loanee farmers enrolling has also increased from 6% (pre-PMFBY) to 37% in 2019-20.
Farmers were supported during the three-month lockdown period due to the COVID-19 epidemic by distribution of claims of over Rs 8741 crore directly in the bank accounts of over 70 lakh farmers.
Losses occurring due to add on cover provisions either due to Locust attack in Rajasthan or mid-season calamities in Karnataka & Tamil Nadu and post-harvest impact in Maharashtra were also paid to the farmers.
The PMFBY portal supports 10 regional languages and enables the farmers to directly enrol in the scheme. Farmers can track their application status, premium amount and the status of their claim.
The National Crop Insurance App, available on Android phones, enables farmers to track the status of their application and report crop loss within 72 hours of the occurrence of any event as listed in the PMFBY guidelines. The scheme has also integrated modern technological methods such as smart sampling and remote sensing to settle claims in an efficient manner.
Our Government is committed to better implementation of this scheme in the coming future, with special focus on transparency of claims, farmer awareness, timely redressal of grievances and quick disposal of claims with extensive usage of Technology.
This scheme works as a risk mitigation tool in the loss of crops in the event of a natural disaster, so I would urge all farmers to join this scheme in large numbers even though the scheme is voluntary for all non-loanee farmers. To be associated with this scheme means to be self-reliant in times of crisis and our dream is also to make every farmer fully self-reliant.

The writer is Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare