Agriculture Ministry demands Rs 11,000 crore more to implement PMFBY this year

NEW DELHI: The Agriculture Ministry has demanded an additional Rs 11,000 crore to settle crop insurance claims this fiscal under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana.

The new scheme, PMFBY, was launched in January and is being implemented in the ongoing kharif (summer) season. The Centre aims to bring 4 crore farmers under the scheme.

"This year's Budget allocation was Rs 5,500 crore for PMFBY. We have demanded from the Finance Ministry to provide an additional budget of Rs 11,000 crore for the new scheme," a senior government official told PTI.

More funds are being sought as the burden is expected to rise with the extension of the deadline to register under the PMFBY and claims of about Rs 7,500 crore are pending from last year under the old scheme NAIS, he said.

"Out of Rs 5,500 crore budget allocated for PMFBY for the 2016-17 fiscal, Rs 5,000 crore has already been used for clearing part of last year's claims under the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS)," the official noted.

About Rs 476 crore has been kept aside for north eastern states and this amount cannot be utilised for other states. "So, we have asked permission to use for other states," the official added.

The Centre has extended the deadline till August 10 for farmers to register under the new crop insurance scheme, and till August 31 for Bihar.

Barring Punjab and five north eastern states, all other states and union territories are implementing the scheme in the ongoing kharif season. Kerala is in the process of notifying the scheme.

For instance, in Andhra Pradesh over 20 lakh farmers have registered so far this season, in addition to 13.41 lakh in Gujarat, 9 lakh each in Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh and 7.5 lakh in Jharkhand, as per the official data.

"The correct figure of the exact coverage would be known by the end of this month. The way new scheme has picked up, we think we will be able to achieve the target of 4 crore farmers this year," the official noted.

Last year, 3.07 crore farmers had taken up crop insurance under the previous scheme.

PMFBY replaces the existing two schemes NAIS and Modified NAIS, which had some inherent drawbacks.

Under the PMFBY, farmers' premium has been kept lower between 1.5-2 per cent for foodgrains and oilseed crops and up to 5 per cent for horticultural and cotton crops.

There will not be a cap on the premium and 25 per cent of the likely claim will be settled directly in farmers' accounts.

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