Agri Business

Marathawada farmers in dire straits; IFFCO Tokio yet to settle claims for Kharif 2018

Rajalakshmi Nirmal BL Research Bureau | Updated on September 24, 2019 Published on September 24, 2019

Every year farmers in Parbhani face problems with crop insurance settlement. Representative image.   -  BusinessLine

IFFCO Tokio has not settled claims of farmers in six talukas of Parbhani district

The fate of 47,000 farmers of Parbhani district of the drought-prone Marathwada region (of Maharashtra), often referred to as the farmers’ suicide belt of India, is hanging by a thread. The insurance company - IFFCO Tokio, which covered these farmers in Kharif 2018 season for their red gram crop (tur) has not settled the claims till now. Parbhani was dry all through Kharif. Despite red gram being a crop that requires only a little water, the absence of shower even towards the end of the monsoon saw the crops wither.

IFCCO Tokio settled claims of farmers in two talukas of Parbhani (Sonepath and Palam), but for reasons not known left farmers in six other talukas – Jinthur, Sailu, Pathri, Gangakhed, Purna and Parbhani, high and dry despite they being eligible for benefits under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

Farmers in these six districts received mid-season pay-out of 25 per cent of anticipated claims from the company, but the settlement of the remaining amount hasn’t happened so far. Neither the insurer nor the State is helping farmers of the district. The 47,000-plus farmers who have not seen the full settlement of claim till now in the six talukas mentioned above, apparently have paid a total premium of ₹1.24 crore. E-mail to the insurance company to check on reasons for non-payment of claims despite receipt of premium remained unanswered till the time of publishing of this article.

Every year farmers in Parbhani face problems with crop insurance settlement not being made on time by insurance companies. Kharif 2017 payment for the soybean crop in two large talukas of Parbhani district – Parbhani and Jinthur, were not done by Reliance General, and the State hasn’t resolved it still.

Irregularities in CCE

There were irregularities in crop cutting experiments (CCE) in Parbhani district in Kharif 2018 season. Crop Cutting experiment is the process of harvesting the crop, threshing and winnowing it, and then weighing it to estimate the actual yield. This then becomes the basis for claim settlement under PMFBY.

The data on actual yield in red gram for farmers in different mandals in each taluka in the Parbhani district in Kharif 2018 season which the writer is privy to shows clearly that there has been tampering with CCE numbers. The yield data for Kharif 2018 was obtained from the SAO (Superintendent Agriculture office), Parbhani twice – first time on 19th March (2019) and the second time on 4th May (2019). It was observed that the yield data provided by the SAO in May was significantly higher to what was shown initially. Now, this raises question of how the yield data changed.

When CCE is only done once at the end of the season before the farmer harvests the crop, how did it change subsequently? The yield for red gram as captured in CCE documents in Jamb mandal (under Parbhani taluka) and given by SAO on 19 March was 410.125 kg/hectare. But in the data provided by the Office in May, the yield for the crop in Jamb was reported as 471.13 kg/hectare. The yield for Pedgaon mandal which was originally shown as 41 kg/hectare, was later changed to 205 kg/hectare. Similarly, the yield for other mandals was also increased and the average return for Parbhani taluka was shown as 415.565 kg/hectare in May against the initial report of 295.187 kg/hectare in March. Hemchandra Shinde, a farm activist in the area who spoke to the paper, said, “They have increased the yield to reduce the claim outgo for the insurance company…We want the State to interfere and do justice to farmers.”

While farmers complain about a 70-80 per cent loss in red gram crop in Kharif 2018, the actual yield estimate as per records of the State is higher. But now, farmers want compensation at least to the tune of what was estimated by CCE and shown initially in March.

Why is technology not deployed?

PMFBY guidelines require that the Revenue or Agriculture Department officers who go to do CCEs should use a smartphone to record the process of CCE through pictures and video. It also insists on geo-coding, i.e., use of GPS technology to capture the latitude and longitude of the CCE location along with date and time stamping in pictures. However, none of this happens in reality, at least in Parbhani. There are also complaints of the State not doing the required number of CCEs and showing a slack behaviour in monitoring and recording CCE data in Parbhani.

The writer of this article has taken up the issues of farmers of Parbhani with the CEO, PMFBY - Ashish Kumar Bhutani (also Joint Secretary, Credit).

Unless there are focussed efforts to sort problems with regard to CCE and ensure that there is auditing by an independent agency (should not make either the State or the insurance company to do verification as both have their interests in increasing or reducing settlement to farmers), PMFBY will not pass the litmus test of farmers and play its role in minimising farmer miseries.

Published on September 24, 2019
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