GUWAHATI, Oct 5 - The State government is working to expand coverage of crop insurance schemes in Assam to at least one lakh farmers in 2015-16.
Official sources told The Assam Tribune that as part of the plan, all companies have been asked to focus on non-loanee farmers and to raise awareness about the benefits of crop insurance.
�The coverage of farmers under both the National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) and the Weather-Based Crop Insurance Scheme (WBCIS) in Assam is very low. We are working to expand coverage and we are hopeful of covering at least one lakh farmers this year,� said an official.
In 2013-14, altogether 57,874 farmers and 48,348.17 hectares of farmland had been covered under the two schemes, in addition to the ten existing modified National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS), which had been implemented in two districts.
However, the coverage came down the following year. In 2014-15, both the NAIS and the WBCIS together were able to cover 46,982 farmers and 27,866.95 hectares of farmland.
�The term sheet was delayed. In the Kharif 2014 season, coverage was done through WBCIS in all 27 districts for both agricultural and horticultural crops. But in the Rabi 2014-15 season, WBCIS only covered horticultural crops, while NAIS covered all agricultural crops,� the official said.
A total of 21,656 farmers were covered by WBCIS in Kharif 2014 season. The scheme covered 1,593 farmers for horticultural crops in the 2014-15 Rabi season, while another 23,642 farmers were covered by the NAIS for agricultural crops.
Sources said that despite the target to increase coverage this year to more than double from last year, there is a delay in sanction of the State government�s share of premium subsidy. The companies have not been able to give their claims for 2014-15 under WBCIS as the premium subsidy of Rs 1.8 crore has not been sanctioned by Dispur.
The files concerned are reportedly stuck with the planning and development department. The Central government has, however, already released its share of the premium subsidy.
Farmers pay 50 per cent of the premium, while the remaining 50 per cent is being paid by the governments at the Centre and in the State. While the State government provides 25 per cent of the premium, the Central government pays the remaining 25 per cent of the premium, sources said.
�Bureaucratic delays like this, where funds are held up for long, have the potential to harm crop insurance expansion. We are already way behind states like Punjab or Haryana in crop insurance coverage. The government should ease the system,� said the official.