Agriculture Ministry Set to Make Pro-Farmer Changes Concerning Climate Crisis, Tech Advancements

Farmer working in his field (File Image)

Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare said on Thursday that it is open to take pro-farmer changes in Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in response to the recent climate crisis and rapid technological advances

According to Manoj Ahuja, secretary of agriculture and farmers welfare, as farming is directly exposed to various climatic calamities, it is crucial to safeguard the nation’s vulnerable farming population from the whims of nature. To ensure that Indian farmers have enough insurance protection, we must place much more emphasis on crop insurance as well as other types of rural/agricultural insurance products. As a result, the demand for crop insurance is projected to rise.

He noted that the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and Modified NAIS were preceded by the PMFBY, which was introduced in 2016 and brought with it comprehensive coverage of all crops and risks from the pre-sowing to post-harvest period.

The crop loss notification period for farmers was increased from 48 to 72 hours, he said, keeping in mind that damage signatures vanish or are lost in the event of localized calamities after 72 hours. This was just one of many new fundamental features that were added during its revision in 2018, according to him. In a similar vein, after being revamped in 2020, the program offered voluntary enrollment and add-on coverage for wildlife assault, making it even more farmer-friendly.

The major changes made in the Revamped Scheme, according to Ahuja, were giving more flexibility to States for coverage of risks under the Scheme and making the Scheme Voluntary for all farmers to meet the farmers’ long-standing demand. Ahuja claimed that PMFBY has been facilitating Crop Insurance adaptation while addressing several challenges along the way.

He further clarified that some States had opted out of the Scheme primarily as a result of their inability to pay their state share of the premium subsidy due to financial constraints. It should be noted that Andhra Pradesh re-joined the Scheme beginning in July 2022, and it is anticipated that the other states are also considering joining the Scheme to provide comprehensive coverage to their respective farmers. Significantly, most States have chosen compensation models rather than PMFBY, which do not offer farmers the same comprehensive risk coverage as PMFBY.

In the age of rapid innovation, technology and digitization, according to Ahuja, have a big impact on expanding PMFBY’s operations and reach through precision agriculture. The combination of rural insurance and agri-tech may be the secret to achieving financial inclusion and building trust in the programme. Some of the key actions taken under the scheme to increase efficiency and transparency include the recently introduced Weather Information and Network Data Systems (WINDS), Yield Estimation System based on Technology (YES-Tech), and Collection of Real Time Observations and Photographs of Crops (CROPIC). In Chhattisgarh, an integrated help line system is undergoing beta testing to resolve farmer complaints in real time.

Ahuja also made note of the fact that the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report 2022 ranks extreme weather risk as the second-largest risk for the ensuing ten years. Such abrupt changes in weather patterns have the potential to have a negative impact on our nation, where the agriculture industry is solely responsible for feeding the world’s second-highest population. Therefore, it is vital to give farmers a safety net to safeguard their financial situation, encourage them to keep farming, and ensure food security for both the nation and the rest of the globe.

First published on: Nov 25, 2022, 10:15 AM IST

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