After the immense distress caused by unseasonal rains and hailstorms, farmers in Himachal Pradesh finally have something to be positive about. On May 14, the Department of Agriculture announced that the centrally sponsored Crop Insurance Scheme for ginger, pea and tomato will be extended to more districts in the state soon. Presently, the scheme covering ginger crops only in the Sirmaur district would now be extended to Solan, Shimla and Bilaspur as well. Similarly, crop insurance for peas would cover six more districts of Chamba, Kullu, Lahaul & Spiti, Kinnaur, Mandi and Shimla; while insurance for tomato, which currently encompasses Solan and Bilaspur, would soon benefit the farmers in Kangra, Mandi, Kullu, Shimla and Sirmaur districts.
What are the new provisions?
Who are the beneficiaries?
The scheme compulsorily covers all the Loanee Farmers - referring to all those who grow notified crops and are availing the Seasonal Agricultural Operations (SAO) loans from financial institutions. Whereas, it is optional for non-Loanee farmers, growing notified crops, to avail the scheme or not. The newly introduced provisions have largely tried to address the issues concerning the implementation of the Crop Insurance Scheme, such as, calculating the claims, insurance premiums and settlement of claims. With proper execution, the scheme would not only help stabilize farm incomes during the disaster years but also encourage farmers to adopt progressive agrarian practices for better yields in the future. Overall, these announcements can be seen as a significant move from the government to relieve farmers in the state, particularly during times such as these, when forces of nature act in an unfavorable manner. For now there is every reason to be optimistic but whether or not these benefits reach the grass root level will determine the effectiveness of this revised Crop Insurance Scheme.
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