GM Crops Insurance

Farmers Must Become Insurance-Aware: Mathura Collector

On the third of April, Mathura was hit by hailstorms. The rain that followed added to the woes of farmers. Wheat, which covers, 80

Wheat damaged by rain at the time of harvest.

Wheat damaged by rain at the time of harvest.

percent of the district’s sown area, lost lustre and colour. The government relaxed the quality norms, but the farmers were met on 5 May complained little procuring was happening. Instead, they said, commission agents were beating down the price at the mandis. The farmers suspected the officials were colluding with agents, who would sell the grain to the government at (higher) support price and make a neat profit. (Note: this is an allegation. We have not independently verified it).  

The collector had assessed the compensation payable to the district’s farmers at Rs 471 cr on the basis of the enhanced rate announced by the central government. We met him at his residence on the morning of 5 May, 2015. Excerpts from that interview.

Rajesh Kumar, Mathura Collector in his office.

Rajesh Kumar, Mathura Collector in his office.

Q: You are providing calamity relief. What about crop insurance?
Ans: Mathura is covered by the weather-based insurance scheme. There is also mNAIS (modified National Crop Insurance Scheme, which is yield-based). We did an analysis and the alarming issue that comes to the fore is the coverage of crop insurance is very less. If you look at the data, in kharif only 18,811 farmers were covered, while we have four lakh farmers. This needs to be expanded. In rabi, we find the same, around 18,000. Our analysis shows that the premium (paid to insurance companies) and the claims (they pay out) is about equal. The parameters should be changed. We are making a case and sending it to the government.

Q: What can be done to widen the coverage?
Ans: There is need for wide publicity. The media must play a role. We did a meeting with banks. For Kisan Credit Cards (meant for crop loans) farmers are adamant that even if they insure, they will not get anything. The premium money is an unnecessary expense. We need to publicize that this is a scheme meant for you and with a small premium you get a good coverage.  The scheme should be skewed to farmers.

Q: How?
Ans: This time farmers’ compensation from Mathura was Rs 9.69 cr for kharif and after the loss (due to drought), they got Rs 9.5 cr. This is almost equivalent or slightly less. Farmers pay 10-15 percent of the share (of premium) and the rest is that of the central government. This is equivalent to the central government reimbursing the loss.  Normally, in an insurance scheme, like of a car or house, the premium is less and if there is a loss, you get ten times or eight times the premium paid. It (crop insurance) has to be changed. Everything evolves and improvement happens over time from learnings.

(Note: Pramod Kumar Aggarwal, an insurance modeller, who works with insurance companies to develop products, says crop insurance should not be seen as a fixed deposit, where you get back what you put in).

More important is publicity. If a farmers pay Rs 400 premium, he gets Rs 1,700, which is four times (this was the payout for damage to paddy crop in kharif 2014). It is good for farmers the way the weather is getting disturbed these days.

(Top photo: Compensation cheque given by the government to a Mathura farmer. By Vivian Fernandes)

Leave a Comment

Hit Counter provided by technology news
Web Design MymensinghPremium WordPress ThemesWeb Development

I Do Not Understand Bt Cotton technology; I Know It Works

Y Kallanagouda Patil, 46, of Uppinbetegeri village in Dharwad taluk  owns 52 acres jointly with his three brothers. He holds a diploma in agriculture from a school in Raichur. Patil grows cotton on ten acres, apart from sugarcane, potato, Bengal gram, jowar, tur,moong and vegetables. He uses groundwater to irrigate his fields. The water is drawn from a depth of 280 feet. Electricity is free so he flood irrigates the fields, except the one under banana  where he uses drip irrigation. He does not micro-irrigate cotton because it is closely planted and has to make way for another crop after eight months. This farmer has his cost all worked out. Making quick mental calculations, he estimates the cost of cotton crop at Rs 22,500 an acre and the realization from 17 quintals an acre at Rs 68,000. He had planted Bayer seed. ‘I do not understand technology, he says, all I know is if I use Bt seed there will be no

Pests Snack on Chilly But Not Cotton

F Basavaraj Rudagi, 48, did not grow cotton before 2008. This farmer from Saundhi village in Dharwad district’s Kundogol taluk made a partial switch to Bt cotton as chilly was susceptible to pest attack and yield was declining. From five acres in 2009, Rudagi had fifteen of a forty acre joint farm under cotton this year, when smartindianagriculture  caught up with him in February. He tried out Bayer in a change from Mahyco and Raasi seed. Rudagi says he got 11.5 quintals (100 kg) an acre from his rain-fed crop and at Rs 4,050 a quintal, his realization was a little over Rs 46,000. The cost, he says, is Rs 26,000 an acre, excluding rental earnings had he leased out the land. This does not mesh with the profit he claims he makes, but then he admits to not keeping crop-wise accounts. Rudagi also grows peanuts, coriander, gram, safflower and jowar. There is safety in diversity. And yes he plants pigeon pea or tur around the cotton crop for bollworms to feed on so they are not forced by the survival instinct to develop resistance to Bt protein.  In this sense he is quite a cut apart. Low cotton prices are worrying but what is the alternative?