State’s poor finances push farmers to the brink

March 14, 2023 08:14 pm | Updated 08:27 pm IST - THIRUVANANTHAPURAM

The precarious financial situation of the government seems to have pushed paddy farmers to the brink in the State. A section of farmers who suffered heavy losses due to unseasonal rain during the 2021 rabi season are yet to be compensated despite their crops being insured under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana and the restructured Weather Based Crop Insurance Scheme.

The insurance premium was shared by farmers and the government. Although the farmers had paid their share during the time of farming itself, the State is yet to pay its share of the premium, delaying claim settlement by the insurance provider — Agriculture Insurance Company of India Ltd.

After repeated requests by the insurance provider, the State recently paid a portion of the premium enabling the company to settle the first instalment claims of a handful of beneficiaries.

However, a substantial number of farmers are yet to be compensated. A senior officer with the Agriculture Insurance Company of India says the State needs to pay around ₹4 crore as premium. “We can’t settle the claims without getting the full premium,” he says.

Besides, the farmers who carried out farming during rabi-2022 have not received payment as Supplyco is yet to enter into an agreement with banks for speedy disbursal of paddy procurement price.

K.K. Kochu Mohammed, who heads the Thrissur Kole Karshaka Sangom, a collective of farmer groups, says farmers have to be paid by Supplyco within 15 days of procurement.

He says the State has cut down the incentives provided to farmers, even as the Centre increased the procurement price from ₹18.15 to ₹20.40 per kg. The State, which has been providing its share of ₹8.80 as incentive per kg, reduced it to ₹7.80 when the Centre increased the procurement price by ₹2.25 per kg. Had the State not reduced the incentive, farmers would have got ₹31.45 per kg of paddy.

The State should not put its financial liability on poor farmers, Mr. Mohammed says adding that farmers will be forced to go on strike if urgent measures are not taken to solve the issue.

Anju K.S., Director of Agriculture, says she will look into the matter and take measures to solve the crisis.

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