The Agriculture Ministry on Thursday said it is open to making pro-farmer changes in the flagship Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) so that the scheme responds to the climate crisis.

Pointing out that farming is directly exposed to climatic catastrophes, Agriculture Secretary Manoj Ahuja said the demand for crop insurance is likely to increase. Greater emphasis is needed on crop and other forms of rural/ agricultural insurance products to provide sufficient insurance protection to farmers.

Addressing an annual review meeting of the PMFBY, Ahuja said digitisation and technology play a significant role in scaling up the reach and operation of crop insurance, with precision agriculture. The confluence of agri-tech and rural insurance can be the magic formula for financial inclusion, enabling trust in the scheme.

Ahuja said the recently introduced Weather Information and Network Data Systems (WINDS), Yield Estimation System based on Technology (YES-Tech) and the Collection of Real Time Observations and Photographs of Crops (CROPIC) will bring in more efficiency and transparency. An integrated help-line system, under beta testing in Chhattisgarh, has been introduced to address farmers’ grievances in real time, he added.

On some States quitting the PMFBY scheme, he said this was due primarily to their inability to pay the state’s share of premium subsidy. As Andhra Pradesh had returned to the PMFBY fold in July 2022, after resolution of issues, the Centre is hopeful that other states, including Telangana, Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand, would also re-join the scheme.

During the past six years, farmers had paid Rs 25,186 crore as their share of premium, while Rs 1,25,662 crore has been paid to the farmers against their claims. Several new fundamental features were added in the 2018 revision, including increasing the crop loss intimation period for farmers from 48 to 72 hours. Voluntary enrolment and add-on cover for wildlife attacks was included in the 2020 revised guidelines.