Consider village as reference unit area for assessing crop damage instead of rain gauge stations situated across the district

Farmers in Perambalur have sought modifications in the weather-based crop insurance scheme, taking into consideration the vagaries of monsoon.

They informed officials here on Thursday that the weather insurance was “unrealistic” as rainfall was not uniform across the ‘reference unit area’ (it is a block) in the district. Raising the issue at the monthly farmers’ grievance day meeting, Raja Chidambaram, State secretary, Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, wondered how insurance could be paid for crop loss based on rainfall data when the State government had declared the entire state as drought-hit.

Further, rainfall varies from village to village and data was collected only from places where rain gauges function. Hence the scheme should be modified to consider village as reference unit area, he said.

The weather-based crop insurance scheme, now in vogue in Perambalur district, operates on an ‘area approach’ in which the reference unit area is deemed to be a homogeneous unit of insurance.

The area is linked to a reference weather station from which data is obtained for assessment of crop insurance. This is opposed to ‘individual approach’ in which insurance is calculated on the basis of loss suffered by the individual farmer.

Ramalingam, a farmers’ leader felt that the insurance calculated for this year was only slightly higher than the premium paid by the farmer.

Mr. Chidambaram questioned the reason for delay in disbursement of insurance claims when the premium was deducted at source while crop loans were disbursed. The primary cooperative agriculture societies, he alleged, forced the farmers to take up weather-based insurance. This resulted in farmers not showing any interest in paying premium. Thungapuram Murugesan called for early disbursement of crop loans to enable farmers take up cultivation in time.

The District Revenue Officer, M. A. Subramanian, who presided over the meeting, said that insurance figures calculated for each crop at block level had been sent to the Union government and the money would be disbursed soon.

Farmers expressed concern over the depleting ground water table and appealed to officials to expedite the scheme to bring water from Mettur reservoir to Perambalur, through Thuraiyur. Water depletion has hit lemon, coconut and sugarcane farm, they said and wanted the district administration to explore the possibility of digging up wells to augment water supply for irrigation. The DRO said that an assessment of damage to sugarcane crop would be taken up soon.

On the demand for adequate supply of fertilizers during the current crop season, officials gave an assurance to provide lists of authorised sales outlets for fertilizers and seeds and also the daily price list of fertilizers.

On a complaint of collection of excess fees by some private schools, the DRO assured to take up the issue with the Inspector of Matriculation Schools.