Failure of the PM-FBY scheme on the ground has eroded the faith of the farmers, and the enrollment for kharif 2017 has been reduced to 34.8 million.Amey Tirodkar 

PM’s Insurance Scheme For Farmers

Image Courtesy: The Wire

Maharashtra is facing one of the most severe droughts since 1972, with the state government declaring drought in 180 tehsils out of 350. Entire Marathwada (spread across Southern and Eastern Maharashtra) region is in dire condition now. This is part 8 of the series of ground reports by Newsclick.

Sandeepan Shankarrao Kawale, a 62-year-old farmer from Mugav village of Nilanga tehsil in Latur district lost his entire crop of soybean and tur [split pigeon pea]. He had deposited Rs 4,000 in the insurance scheme Pradhanmantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PM-FBY). However, never got a single penny for his loss.

Bharat Vitthal Rubade from the same village had deposited Rs 1,600 in the scheme, but received only Rs 1,300. His loss in the year of 2017-18 amounted to Rs 60,000.

In similar cases, Arabh Muhammad Rafi Gulab deposited Rs 1,274 and received only Rs 143, while Vishal Dhage of Chinchpur Dhage village in Bhoom tehsil of Osmanabad district had deposited Rs 1400, but received nothing.

These are just a few examples to show how PM-FBY is really faring on the ground. It is not so just the Latur and Osmanabad district, but in almost every village of Maharashtra.

In the second week of January 2019, a video had gone viral on social media and on messaging apps. The person speaking in the video was Yogesh Shelke from Latur district. He was Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance employee, who used to deal with the claims of the farmers at the Maharashtra Gramin Bank. In the video, Shelke alleged that the insurance company officers, in collusion with the MGB officers, are looting farmers by rejecting their rightful claims of crop insurance.

Also read: #MahaDrought: Inadequate Aid by Government to Fight Drought

Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led union cabinet approved the PM-FBY scheme on January 13, 2016. The idea of the scheme was to help farmers who lose their crop to natural calamities. Initially, it was decided that Rs 8,800 crore will be spent on clearing insurance claims of the farmers. This had created hope among Maharashtra’s farmers who have been facing wrath of nature for the last seven to eight years. Another objective of this scheme was to stabilise the income of the farmers, while ensuring smooth credit flow to the farming sector.

“The process to start the insurance scheme and later file for claims is complicated. Another important fact is that farmers are being cheated by the state machinery. Most important issue is about private companies being given space in this scheme. It looks like private companies are getting huge benefits, and real farmers are left behind,” said All India Kisan Sabha General Secretary Ajit Navale.

Maharashtra government has now declared drought in almost half of the tehsils. It has affected production of agriculture produce – especially of all the pulses and soybean. “If we would have really received the insurance amount for the losses in the last two years, it could have helped us during this season,” said Ravindra Shinde of Hanmantwadi Halgara village of Nilanga tehsil.

The data shows that the total number of farmers who had registered for insurance in the kharif[autumn] season of 2015 was 30.9 million. But after the launch of PM-FBY in 2016, the number shot up by almost 30 per cent, and the enrollment of the farmers went up to 40.3 million. But it is also true that the bad implementation of the scheme on the ground has eroded the faith of the farmers in scheme, and the enrollment for kharif 2017 reduced to 34.8 million. It was decreased further to 33.3 million in kharif 2018.

In the Mugav village of Latur, Newsclick met Sugreev Manohar Mane, a 48-year-old farmer. He has made no investment in the insurance scheme whatsoever. He explained, “Why waste money if you won’t get it back anytime?”