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Punjab Agriculture Dept Demands Rs 400 crore to Start Crop Insurance Scheme

The Punjab agriculture department has requested 400 crore from the state finance department to launch the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), which aims to provide farmers with crop loss insurance.

Shivam Dwivedi
Wheat yield fell by 15% due to a sudden rise in temperature during crop maturation
Wheat yield fell by 15% due to a sudden rise in temperature during crop maturation

Union government launched PMFBY as one of its flagship schemes in 2016, and the Aam Aadmi Party dispensation in Punjab is looking to implement it, reportedly amid a central push to cut expenditure on disaster relief funds. States that had previously rejected the scheme, such as Telangana, Gujarat, and Bihar, have now adopted it.

The scheme, which was partially funded by the Centre, was launched across the country in 2016, but the then- BJP government in Punjab rejected it, claiming that its parameters were unsuitable for the state's farmers. Farmers were also opposed to the scheme's implementation due to the additional burden of the insurance premium that they would have to bear. Later, during the Congress administration, a state-level crop insurance scheme was proposed, but it was never implemented.

Crop losses in the last two seasons were unprecedented, and the resulting burden on the state treasury in the form of compensation to farmers prompted the AAP government to implement the PMFBY. Once implemented, farmers pay a portion of the sum insured as premium, with the remainder split between the Centre and the state government.

The Punjab government had to pay 700 crore for crop loss in the previous two cotton seasons. Last year, wheat yield fell by 15% due to a sudden rise in temperature during crop maturation, resulting in significant losses for farmers. Prior to that, the basmati crop suffered significant losses. Farmers' total losses were estimated to be Rs. 1500 crore.

The launch deadline is the Rabi sowing season in 2024. The Punjab government has set the 2024 rabi (wheat) sowing season (October to November) as the deadline for the scheme's implementation.

On February 27, top state officials, including chief minister Bhagwant Mann, agriculture minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal, and chief secretary VK Janjua, will meet to finalize the scheme's implementation. "The agriculture department has asked the finance department to allocate 400 crore so that we have funds to kick start the scheme," Dhaliwal said, adding that much preparation is needed before the scheme's launch.

"Of late, the state has seen a lot of crop damage, particularly cotton, leading to losses for farmers," chief secretary Janjua said, adding that a blueprint for a Punjab-specific scheme would be ready soon. "Cotton cultivation has also decreased to 2.5 lakh hectares (from 10 lakh hectares). Our government wishes to assist farmers by insuring their crops."

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