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Is crop insurance scheme losing steam?

Of the 84 lakh farmers who withdrew, 68.31 lakh are from the four BJP-ruled States: reply to RTI

More than 84 lakh farmers, which is around 15% of the total farmers insured in the first year of the Union government’s ambitious Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in 2016-17, withdrew themselves from the scheme in 2017-18, a reply to an RTI application has revealed.

It includes 68.31 lakh farmers from the four Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled States of Madhya Pradesh, Maharasthra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Profit margins

The crop insurance companies, including Reliance, ICICI, HDFC and IFFCO, among others, have registered a total profit of around ₹15,795 crore since the launch of the scheme, though the final profit margins could change since the insurance claims for 2017-18 Rabi crops are yet to be estimated. The profits for 2016-17 are approximately ₹6,459 crore, said the RTI reply.

Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana 2016-17 2017-18
Loanee farmers 4,35,52,715 3,51,36,128
Non-loanee farmers 1,36,64,444 1,36,34,387
Number of farmers insured 5,72,17,159 4,87,70,515
Gross Premium ₹22,36,211.08 ₹25,04,587.20
Estimated Claims ₹16,44,855.77 ₹17,99,254.41
Approved Claims ₹16,24,270.97 ₹16,61,116.39
Claim Paid ₹15,90,247.23 ₹15,71,025.50
No. of farmers against paid claims 3,01,26,403 12601048

Note: Majority claims for Rabi 2017-18 are yet to be estimated/approved by the companies.(The amount for premium and claims is in lakhs) | Source: RTI application by P.P. Kapoor dated September 12, 2018

‘Scheme a fiasco’

Panipat-based RTI activist P.P. Kapoor, who sought the information from the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, alleged that the crop insurance scheme was a “fiasco” as shown by the figures and aimed at benefiting the private insurance companies in the name of farmers. He said the government would have done better to directly help the farmers than route it through the insurance companies.

As per the RTI figures, 5,72,17,159 farmers enrolled themselves for the crop insurance scheme in 2016-17, including 4,35,52,715 loanee farmers and 1,36,64,444 non-loanee farmers. But the number of these farmers dwindled to 4,87,70,515 for 2017-18 with the number of insured loanee farmers going down to 3,51,36,128, but the number of non-loanee farmers remaining almost stagnant at 1,36,34,387.

As per the scheme, the crop loans through Kisan Credit Cards — or in other words for loanee farmers — are covered under compulsory coverage.

Among the four States, the maximum number of 31,25,025 farmers have withdrawn themselves from the scheme in Rajasthan, followed by Maharashtra (19,46,992), Uttar Pradesh (14,69,052) and Madhya Pradesh (2,90,312). In South India, the number of insured farmers in Karnataka has decreased from 27,37,667 to 16,08,569, while their number has marginally gone up for Andhra Pradesh from 17,74,444 to 18,18,449.

Losses in T.N., Andhra

Though the insurance companies made several thousand crore rupees profit in the first year of the launch of the scheme, they suffered losses in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh the same year. In Tamil Nadu, the total claim paid by the insurance companies was around ₹3,35,562 lakh against the gross premium of approximately ₹1,22,737 lakh. Similarly, the companies made a loss of around ₹3,012 lakh in Andhra Pradesh.

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