The Centre’s flagship scheme Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) or the PM Crop Insurance Scheme has seen coverage of 30.14 million hectares (mh) in kharif 2023, which is 12 per cent higher than year-ago. The maximum increase has been noticed in Maharashtra, which received 39 per cent below-normal rain in August.
Maharashtra’s insured area has nearly doubled to 11.4 million hectares (mh), after the State government decided to take the burden of the premium, whereas it is almost at last year’s level in other major States such as Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. But, insurers are now waiting for September rain as the pan-India deficit in August has reached 35 per cent, threatening crops in many parts.
“Though some more additions may be made during data compilation, enrollment of farmers in almost all States except Jammu and Kashmir has been completed,” an official said. Enrollment under PMFBY in Jammu and Kashmir will end August 31.
There has been a big jump in enrollment of non-loanee farmers as the area insured by them has witnessed a 71 per cent rise to 14.25 mh whereas loanee farmers have insured 15.89 mh, a fall of 15 per cent from year-ago.
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Official sources attributed the trend to the Maharashtra government’s decision to subsidise farmers’ premiums in crop insurance by allowing enrollment only at ₹1 has increased the coverage, the surplus rain in mostly irrigated Haryana in July has reduced enrollment.
Haryana has insured 1,53,935 hectares this season against 8,57,866 hectares a year ago. Karnataka has seen an insured area of 1.81 mh against 1.89 mh a year ago even though its August rainfall deficit now stands at 74 per cent.
“In the current circumstances and possibility of drought increasing, PMFBY will definitely be helpful to farmers where it is getting implemented,” an Agriculture Ministry official said.
According to the India Meteorological Department, the all-India monsoon rainfall in the current season was 91 per cent of the long-period average as of August 30, since June 1. The weather bureau has predicted normal rain for the entire June-September season, which is between 96 per cent to 104 per cent of the LPA of 87 cm. It means, the September rainfall will be crucial and has to be 16-17 per cent above normal to help the season qualify to be normal with at least 96 per cent precipitation.
Yield may fall
“As IMD is scheduled to announce the rainfall outlook for September on Thursday, there will be an idea about how the claims under crop insurance may be as productivity will definitely fall in rainfed areas due to prolonged dryness,” an official source said. However, he said since precipitation in eastern region, a major producing belt for paddy, is good the crop in those parts may not be affected.
Gujarat has the highest rainfall deficit of 90 per cent in August 1-30 and does not implement PMFBY. Officials said farmers could have been saved had it joined the Central scheme this year. First the crop got affected by cyclone Biparjoy and next came the dry spell, officials said.