The integration of land records during the registration process of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yogna (PMFBY) has resulted in Maharashtra reporting smaller cropped area this kharif season. This is largely due to the weaning out of multiple registrations using altered or fake documents, which have been an impediment to the scheme’s smooth implementation in the state, according to senior officials of the state agriculture department.
“On paper, the dip might feel like farmers have moved away from the scheme. But in reality, the technological intervention has allowed us to make it more robust and fool-proof,” said an official.
This kharif season, at least 106 lakh farmers have insured 56.61 lakh hectares of land in Maharashtra. This is a significant dip from the 67.53 lakh hectares insured during kharif 2019, in which 126 lakh farmers had opted for the scheme.
Thanks to assured risk coverage and low rates of premium, the PMFBY has been a hit with farmers since its inception. Farmers who do not avail of institutional finance for their agricultural needs form the bulk of enrolment, although the scheme is optional for them. In 2019, Maharashtra had accounted for at least 40.43 per cent of the 2.77 crore enrolments under the scheme nationally.
However, over the last few years, the scheme has become unpopular with many insurance companies. Higher and frequent payouts have made the scheme high risk for companies, in addition to complains of multiple registrations by farmers and political pressure in times of payout. Last year, the insurance companies had paid Rs 5,453.42 crore as payment towards crop loss as against the total premium collected of Rs 5,083.59 crore.
For the rabi season of 2019-20, the state government had started a scheme to integrate land records during the enrolment process. The government aimed to integrate the digitised land records of the state with the national portal of PMFBY to help streamline the process and reduce paperwork. Before this, farmers were expected to get fresh revenue documents issued at the village level officials if they wanted to register for the scheme.
The integration also allowed the implementing agency to apply filters that would stop multiple registrations and other forms of grassroots-level malpractices. With the land records being available to the enrolment agency, incidents of multiple registrations dropped to almost zero.