A comprehensive review of the history of Haryana shows that agriculture has always been the mainstay of its economy through the ages. Most of the population of Haryana is dependent on agriculture and farming. Despite very small acreage under farming, Haryana is a major contributor to the national food reserves and has a prime position in production of wheat and rice. This has been possible due to hard work of innovative farmers and excellent policy support by the State Government. But agriculture is always subjected to the climatic risks and farmers have to face severe losses due to the climatic hazards. Recently, there had been one or the other calamity successively for the last four crop seasons. In 2015 wheat crop was severely destroyed by the untimely hailstorm in the State and cotton was ruined by the white fly. A significant damage has also been reported to the wheat crop by the thunder storm in the current season. These natural situations are beyond the control of the farmers and the Government. Alarming situation arises when some farmers choose the path of suicide due to distress caused by debt and unavoidable natural calamities. The Haryana Government is very anxious to safeguard the interest of the farmers and distributed the highest ever and quickest ever compensation of Rs 1,092 crore to farmers affected by inclement weather conditions in 2015. But this is not a permanent solution of the problem.
Now, a welcome step has been taken by the Central Government by announcing the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana in the country. The main objectives of this new crop insurance scheme are to provide a risk cover and financial support to the farmers of the country in case of natural hazards, to stabilize the farm income and to ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector. In this scheme, the premium rate will be 2% of the actual sum assured amount for Kharif crops, 1.5% for the Rabi crops and 5% for the horticultural and commercial crops. The sum assured amount will be the cost of cultivation. In this scheme, the shortcomings of previous schemes have been removed. The Government has decided to get rid of the “capping” mechanism that did not allow farmers to derive legitimate benefits. Localized risks like hailstorm, drought, pest attack and prevented sowing has been covered and farmers can get “maximum benefits by paying minimal premium”. Also provision of 25% on account payment has been introduced. The new Crop Insurance Scheme is in line with “One Nation – One Scheme” theme and will be implemented in every State of India, in association with the respective State Governments. This crop insurance scheme will be administered under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers' Welfare, Government of India. This new crop insurance plan will be functional from this Kharif season of crop cultivation. To ensure easy and quick implementation of the scheme the Government has also stressed on the use of technology such as smart phones for estimation of premium, sum assured and early settlement of the claims.
Further, the latest technologies for weather prediction and information system would be implemented for loss assessment and crop monitoring. Finally, I thank the Government for launching the crop insurance scheme and wish for the success of the scheme.
(Varinder Singh Kundu, IAS)