Ranchi, Sept. 2: Crop insurance numbers across the state are scanty though the season’s rainfall still shows a 21 per cent deficit, signalling Jharkhand farmers seem to have thrown caution to the winds.
Sowing valour over discretion despite erratic monsoon, only 1.75 lakh farmers across 24 districts opted for kharif crop insurance this year — mainly for paddy — compared to 3.71 lakh in 2012. In 2009, as many as 13.09 lakh farmers had opted for crop cover, making the state the national topper that year.
Though the last date of insurance was August 31, 2013, the poor show forced the state cooperative department, the nodal agency to implement the scheme, to seek an extension till September 30 from the department of agriculture and cooperation, under Union ministry of agriculture. The Centre’s response is still awaited.
According to norms, a farmer seeking insurance goes to Large-scale Area Multipurpose Society (LAMPS) authority in his block with his land receipt — proof of ownership of acres — and chooses a scheme relevant for him.
Crop insurance figures dip as farmers play it by the ear
The one-time annual premium, ranging from Rs 82 to over Rs 500 per acre, is based on the size of land and kind of cover he wants — weather-based, crop-cutting and so on. Agriculture Insurance Corporation of India Limited, private insurance companies such as IFFCO-Tokio General Insurance Company, ICICI Lombard and HDFC offer policies.
After kharif harvest season in November-December, the state cooperative department declares whether or not the crop has failed. If it has, the farmer can claim insurance money, which can even be 10 times more the sum of the premium.
The declaration varies from district to district.
“So far, some 1.75 lakh farmers have insured crops. We are waiting for the Centre to increase the deadline to September 30 so that more peasants can avail insurance benefits,” Jeevendra Kumar, joint secretary in the state co-operative department, told The Telegraph.
Lesser number of farmers choosing insurance this year indicates a mixed bag of optimism and hopelessness in a rain-fed state where paddy is the bulk crop.
Asked why less number of farmers insured crops this year despite scanty rainfall the entire season, Kumar cited a monetary reason.
“In 2011 and 2012, farmers who insured their crops did not get payback on premiums, as rainfall was good and the state witnessed bumper harvest. So, their keenness to invest cash in insurance this year is low,” he said.
Also, despite a dry July and August first-half raising drought concerns and spurring chief minister Hemant Soren to start a Rs 62-crore relief package, a large section of farmers hoped for monsoon to pick up steam.
Their hopes seem to have come true. Jharkhand’s rainiest August in five years has pulled down monsoon deficit to 21 per cent.
Sources in the agriculture department said with rains making an entry in a big way now, farmers are resorting to short-duration paddy variants.
“The percentage of paddy sown is 59.93 per cent till now. We believe there is no reason to panic,” agriculture secretary Nitin Madan Kulkarni said. “In Palamau, Garhwa, Hazaribagh, Koderma, Dhanbad, Dumka and Godda, paddy sowing is less than 50. In Palamau, it is 20.15 per cent.”