Farmers across 10 districts of Maharashtra may not be able to avail crop insurance under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) this rabi season, as none of the insurance companies have filed bids to implement the scheme in these areas.
Work to implement both weather-based insurance as well as PMFBY for the 2019-20 rabi season has been delayed due to lack of bids, said senior officials of the state Agriculture department. The first few tenders failed to get the required number of bids and they had to be refloated.
Heavy underwriting losses and political interference are the main reasons the scheme has become nonviable, said sources in insurance companies.
The state Agriculture department has divided the 32 rabi districts of the state in six clusters and invited tenders for the implementation of PMFBY in all of them. The first tender was floated on September 9 but failed to get the required number of bids for each cluster. In the second tender process, no bids were received for 15 districts, and the tender had to be floated for these clusters again in November. However, 10 districts, including Beed and Solapur, have not received any bids for implementation of the scheme.
The PMFBY is a flagship programme of the central government, under which both the state and central governments pay most of the premium, while the farmer has to pay only 1.5-2 per cent of it. The low premium rates and assured compensation in case of crop loss has prompted farmers in Maharahastra to participate in the scheme in large numbers.
For the financial year 2018-19 , 1.39 crore farmers had opted for the scheme and the total premium collected was Rs 4,778.3 crore. Due to the drought last year, the companies had paid out Rs 3,730.52 crore to 54.46 lakh farmers.
Compensation amount for the present kharif season is expected to be higher, given the extensive damage to crops due to unseasonal rain.
Insurance companies that had earlier participated in the scheme are now staying away from it. Repeated crop damage due to inclement weather has led to underwriting losses. This factor, coupled with alleged political interference, has prompted private insurers to exit the scheme. “Such incidents forced many insurance companies to think twice before participating in the scheme,” said a senior government official.