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Android App stops succour under PM Fasal Bima Yojana

PM Fasal Bima Yojana scheme has failed to deliver any of its intended objectives with the biggest stumbling block for the farmer turning out to be accessing of the “Crop Insurance app”

Updated On – 09:33 PM, Fri – 5 May 23

Android App stops succour under PM Fasal Bima Yojana
Representational image.

Hyderabad: When Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in 2016, it was touted as a panacea for farmers facing unpredictable monsoons, unseasonal rains, drought, and other non-preventable risks.

But seven years later, the scheme has failed to deliver any of its intended objectives with the biggest stumbling block for the farmer turning out to be accessing of the “Crop Insurance app”, launched in 2018 ostensibly to facilitate filing of claims for crop loss. The insurance scheme is intended to provide compensation for crop losses due to drought, floods, pest or disease attacks.

The Yojana, on paper, presents a most farmer-friendly picture. But in reality farmers are facing many technical issues while using the app, making the whole process of reporting crop loss a nightmare.

The app available on play store of android phones with more than million downloads, is anything but friendly, farmers vouchsafe. Farmers complain that they are unable to submit their insurance claims as the app is not allowing them to do so. The frustration of the farmers is visible on the reviews section of the app on Play Store. A cursory glance would explain the frustration and anger. There are many technical glitches which make it impossible for the farmer to upload the photos and videos of the damaged crops, an essential feature for claiming the insurance.

Take the case of a farmer from Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh, who tried to register his claim for Rs 2 lakh insurance on the app. It did not allow him to submit his form. Another farmer from Madhya Pradesh who tried to register his claim about paddy losses complained: “Worst App. I am trying to report the loss of my paddy, but the process doesn’t complete. We cannot upload photos and videos by using this App.” “Bakvas App. Trying to intimate crop loss from the last 15-days but unable to do so,” writes another.

Like them, there are hundreds of farmers who expressed their displeasure over the functioning of the App in social media too. The complaint range from inability to log because of unresponsive buttons.

Unreliable power supply, network issues, lack of digital awareness and language are also posing major challenges for farmers to get access to the app, with even educated farmers are finding it hard to upload data. A study by the Centre on the insurance scheme done last October revealed that only 21 percent of the farmers, who availed the scheme through crop loans were aware of its existence. The study shows that 42 percent of surveyed farmers were unaware of the option to report crop loss through centralised toll free number, toll free number of insurance companies or by visiting block level agriculture department offices.

There is another hitch. Under the PMFBY, the onus is on the insured farmers to call up insurance firms within 72 hours to inform them about crop damage or else they would lose the opportunity to get the benefit of the crop insurance. Media reports from Haryana suggest that over 24,000 farmers have been waiting for three years for receiving the crop insurance claims worth around Rs. 54 crore.

A group of empanelled general insurance companies are to provide relief to the farmer, but farmers accuse the government of not monitoring the scheme implementation. In fact, there are allegations that many insurance companies turn away farmers, as most of them do not meet the stringent criteria. According to information culled out from various sources, both the central and state governments have contributed almost Rs. 1,265 lakh crore as premium over the past five years, however, only 87,320 crore have been paid to the farmers. While public sector insurance companies settled 90 percent of farmers’ claims, private sector companies such as Bharti AXA, Reliance General Insurance, and Future General India Insurance pocketed enormous profits without paying farmers their rightful dues.

Interestingly, the scheme’s objective is to support sustainable production in the agriculture sector by providing financial support to farmers suffering crop loss or damage arising out of unforeseen events, stabilising farmers income to ensure continuance in farming, encouraging them to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices, ensuring credit worthiness of the farmers, crop diversification and enhancing growth and competitiveness of the agriculture sector besides protecting the farmers from production risks. But the government was not focusing on these issues and trying to use them as a publicity stunt for gaining political mileage.

Gujarat, Bihar, West Bengal, Telangana and Jharkhand have opted out of the scheme because of low claim ratio and financial constraints. Maharashtra is the latest State to threaten to withdraw from the PMFBY if the changes suggested by it were not taken into consideration.

 

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