Farmers Welfare Current Affairs - 2019
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Government has appointed senior bureaucrat Ashish Kumar Bhutani as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). He has been appointed to post till May 2020. He is IAS officer (1992 batch) of Assam-Meghalaya cadre.
Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY)
It is farmers’ welfare scheme launched in 2016 to ensure faster insurance services or reliefs to farmers. It was formulated in line with One Nation–One Scheme theme by replacing earlier two schemes National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) and Modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (MNAIS) by incorporating their best features and removing their inherent drawbacks (shortcomings). It aims to reduce the premium burden on farmers and ensure early settlement of crop assurance claim for the full insured sum.
Objectives: Provide insurance coverage and financial support to farmers in event of natural calamities, pests & diseases. Stabilise income of farmers to ensure their continuance in farming. Ensure flow of credit to the agriculture sector. Encourage farmers to adopt innovative and modern agricultural practices.
Beneficiaries: All farmers growing notified crops in notified area during season who have insurable interest in crop are eligible under this scheme. It also provides insurance benefits to Landless labourers. It is compulsory for loanee farmers availing crop loans for notified crops in notified areas and voluntary for non-loanee farmers.
Key Features of Scheme
Under this scheme, farmers need to pay uniform premium of only 2% for all Kharif crops and 1.5% for all Rabi crops. In case of annual commercial and horticultural crops, farmers have to pay premium of only 5%. The premium rates to be paid by farmers are very low and balance premium will be paid by Government. Moreover, there is no upper limit on Government subsidy, so farmers will get claim against full sum insured without any reduction.
It covers yield losses due to non-preventable risks, such as natural fire and lightning, storm, stailstorm, cyclone, typhoon, tempest, hurricane, tornado. It also covers risks due to flood, inundation and landslide, drought, dry spells, pests and diseases. It also covers post-harvest losses are also covered.
Udder this scheme, it mandatory for use of technology such as smart phones, drones etc to capture and upload data of crop cutting to reduce delays in claim payment to farmers. Remote sensing will be also used to reduce number of crop cutting experiments. The scheme is implemented on Area Approach basis. In this case, defined area (i.e. unit area of insurance) is village or above it can be geo-mapped and geo-fenced region having homogenous risk profile for notified crop.
The Union Ministry of Agriculture and Famers Welfare has unveiled Model Agriculture Produce and Livestock Contract Farming and Services (Promotion & Facilitation) Act, 2018 to ensure better price to farmers. It is aimed at reducing farmers’ risks by creating assured market for their produce at pre-agreed price, while encouraging investment from agribusiness and food processing industries by enhancing productivity and cost efficiency.
Under contract farming, agricultural production (including livestock and poultry) can be carried out based on pre-harvest agreement (contract) between buyers (such as food processing units and exporters), and producers (farmers or farmer organisations). The producer can sell agricultural produce at specific price in future to buyer as per agreement. Under contract farming, producer can reduce risk of fluctuating market price and demand. The buyer can reduce risk of non-availability of quality produce.
The draft Model Act seeks to create regulatory and policy framework for contract farming and servives. Based on this draft Act, states legislatures can enact law on contract farming as agriculture falls under state list of Constitution. It is promotional and facilitative Act and not regulatory in its structure. It not only covers contract farming in agriculture crops but also in livestock, dairy and poultry products.
The Model Act lays special emphasis on protecting interests of farmers, considering them as weaker of two parties entering into a contract. It also takes into consideration services contracts all along the value chain including pre-production, production and post-production in addition to contract farming.
It has provision for Registering and Agreement Recording Committee (Officer) for purpose at district, block, taluka level for online registration of sponsor and recording of agreement. It makes mandatory for covering contracted produce under crop and livestock insurance in operation.
It keeps contract framing outside ambit of Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee Act. Under it, no permanent structure can be developed on farmers’ land or premises. It does not vest right, title of interest of the land on sponsor.
It provides for promotion of Farmer Producer Organization (FPOs) or Farmer Producer Companies (FPCs) to mobilize small and marginal farmers. Under it, FPO/FPC can be contracting party if so authorized by farmers. No rights, title ownership or possession can be transferred or alienated or vested in contract farming sponsor etc.
It assures market safety to contract farming producer by ensuring buying of entire pre-agreed quantity of one or more of agricultural produce, livestock or its product of as per contract. It establishes Contract Farming Facilitation Group (CFFG) for promoting contract farming and services at village or panchayat at level. It provides accessible and simple dispute settlement mechanism at the lowest level possible for quick disposal of disputes.