PATNA: In an apparent snub to the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY), the Bihar government has launched its own scheme to provide guaranteed assistance to the state’s farmers in the event of crop damage.
At a time of growing unrest among farmers countrywide, the new scheme unveiled by Bihar Chief Minister and JD(U) national president Nitish Kumar will replace PMFBY by coming into force from the current kharif season. The measure is seen as Kumar’s tactical move to keep Bihar’s farmers happy with an eye on the Lok Sabha polls next year and the state Assembly polls in 2020.
The new scheme, Bihar Rajya Fasal Sahayta Yojana (BRFSY), makes Bihar the first state to launch its own insurance scheme for its farmers by discarding PMFBY. While in PMFBY the farmers had to pay a premium for their crops to PSU crop insurance companies, they will not have to pay anything from their pocket under BRFSY. The state’s farmers will be entitled to fixed monetary benefits in the event of crop loss due to natural calamities.
“BRFSY is not an insurance scheme. It is a scheme to ensure farmers get assistance to tackle crop loss and continue farming with courage and dedication,” said Atul Prasad, principal secretary of Bihar’s cooperative department, on Tuesday. The scheme will ensure farmers have enough money for the next crop cycle if their current crop is hit by a natural calamity, he added.
Prasad also said PMFBY was “not really helping” farmers in Bihar. Citing figures of the 2016 Kharif season, he said the Centre and the state governments spent Rs 495 crore each as premium under PMFBY, but Bihar’s farmers got only Rs 221 crore as damages.
Under PMFBY, the state and the Centre pay 49 per cent each as premium while the rest 2 per cent is paid by the farmers. But BRFSY does not require farmers to pay any premium and assures them support from the government.
As per BRFSY, if a farmer’s production is less than 20 per cent of the threshold limit, he will get Rs 7,500 per hectare for up to two hectares. In case the loss in production is more than 20 per cent, the farmers will get Rs 20,000 at the rate of Rs 10,000 per hectare for up to two hectares. The threshold production limit will be calculated by multiplying the average production of last seven years with an indemnity level of 70 per cent.
Significantly, BRFSY will cover not only farmers who have taken loans from nationalised and cooperative banks and financial institutions, but also those who have borrowed from other agencies.