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State govt to cover 5 lakh farmers under crop insurance scheme
 GUWAHATI, June 11 - With a view to expanding crop insurance in Assam, the State government has set a target to cover at least five lakh farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojna (PMFBY) in 2019-20.

 As part of the plan, the State government has divided all the districts of Assam into clusters for coverage under the scheme.

Besides, for the first time since the introduction of PMFBY, the implementing agencies have been selected for a duration of three years, as against for a single crop season, as has been the norm so far.

“The aim is to give a major boost to crop insurance in the State. That is why the government has set a target to cover at least five lakh farmers during this year, including the Kharif 2019 season and the Rabi 2019-20 season. So, at least 2.5 lakh farmers are set to be included under the scheme in each crop season, which is a much larger figure than in any of the previous seasons since the scheme was launched in 2016,” a senior official told The Assam Tribune today.

He added, “The government has also decided to go for a longer duration of allotment to implementing agencies with a view to facilitating the insurance firms to get acclimatised with their respective zones and clusters. Frequent change of agencies discourages them from undertaking long-term efforts. Besides, selection of new agencies every year or each crop season is a very time consuming.”

The districts of Assam have been divided into eight clusters.

While the Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd (AIC) will be the implementing agency in six of the clusters, the scheme will be looked after in the other two clusters by the HDFC ERGO General Insurance Company Ltd.

The AIC will be the implementing agency in Cluster one (Kamrup, Kokrajhar, Goalpara and Dima Hasao), Cluster two (Jorhat, Majuli, Golaghat, Nalbari, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong), Cluster three (Barpeta, Karimganj, Sivasagar and Charaideo), Cluster four (Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Biswanath and Dhemaji), Cluster five (Dhubri, South Salmara-Mankachar, Darrang and Hailakandi) and Cluster seven (Nagaon, Hojai, Chirang and Dibrugarh).

HDFC ERGO will implement PMFBY over the next three years in Cluster six (Udalguri, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur and Cachar) and Cluster eight (Kamrup Metro, Morigaon and Baksa).

Sali (winter) paddy, jute and black gram crops will be covered during this Kharif 2019 season, as per the decision of the State Level Coordination Committee on Crop Insurance (SLCCCI).

“The scheme will be implemented at revenue circle level. Each revenue circle will be considered as one unit for the purpose of Crop Cutting Experiments (CCE),” said the source.

Farmers’ share of premium for up to one hectare per farmer will be borne by the State government.

“The government has sanctioned Rs 25 crore as waive of share of farmers’ premium. The scheme is available to all farmers growing the notified crops in the notified areas, including sharecropper and tenant farmers. However, farmers need to have insurable interest for the notified or insured crop. All farmers availing Seasonal Agricultural Operations (SAO) loans from financial institutions, or those who are termed as loanee farmers for the notified crops would be covered compulsorily. Coverage is also available to non-loanee farmers on optional basis,” the official added.

The PMFBY was officially launched in January 2016 by Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the idea to implement it in all the states across India in association with the respective State governments.

In Assam, the PMFBY coverage has steadily increased over the years. Over 25,000 farmers were covered during the Kharif 2018 season, while the numbers went up to over 87,000 farmers during the Rabi 2018-19.

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