Tamil Nadu

Prime Minister’s crop insurance scheme sees poor coverage of Scheduled Caste farmers in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu fares poorly in terms of the coverage of Scheduled Caste farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (Prime Minister’s Crop Insurance Scheme).

In the last three years (2019 to 2021), in respect of both cultivation seasons - Kharif and Rabi (which could be broadly equated with Tamil Nadu’s seasons of Kuruvai and Samba), the share of SCs did not exceed 1% of the farmers enrolled, according to a perusal of the data available on the website for the crop insurance scheme. Even during the Rabi season, when Tamil Nadu records higher enrolment of farmers in general, 2021 saw certain districts showing zero coverage of SCs. They included Coimbatore, Erode, Krishnagiri, Theni and Tiruppur. This did not mean that other districts fared better, as the highest figure of coverage was 2.88% in Dharmapuri.

Interestingly, farmers belonging to the Scheduled Tribes have performed better than SCs, as their share varied from 4.53% to 10.15% in the given years. The other two categories - Other Backward Classes and general - are evenly balanced, accounting for at least 90% of the farmers.

However, the situation concerning the SCs is not confined to Tamil Nadu. In the 2021 Kharif season, barring Chhattisgarh and Tripura, no other State crossed the two-digit mark.

A number of reasons are cited for the poor coverage of SCs. An official says not many SC farmers raise paddy, which is the principal crop covered under the insurance scheme in Tamil Nadu. They are generally into millets and oilseeds, which have also been brought under the insurance scheme. For example, during the 2021 Kharif season, nearly 36% of farmers enrolled in Tiruvannamalai district belonged to SCs. There, millets are an important crop.

C. Lakshmanan, a veteran academician with the Madras Institute of Development Studies, who has been studying issues concerning the SCs and the farm sector, is not surprised over the data. Apart from the economic factor, the element of social discrimination comes in the way of SC farmers accessing *finance for improving their performance. “They are not able to take up intensive farming or grow paddy. This is why their coverage remains abysmally poor,” he explains.

A veteran civil servant, who has been observing the problems of SCs as a member of the community, apart from the dimension of governance, feels there can be discrepancies with regard to the data. “Inherent structural problems” in the rural economy of the State work against the SCs, and this also explains the reason for such a low coverage, he observes. As regards the STs’ better showing, the official says Malayali, one of the 36 tribes in the State, which is essentially concentrated in districts such as Dharmapuri, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur and Salem, has made a difference as it is this tribe which takes to farming, especially horticultural crops, in areas such as Kollimalai and Javadhu hills.

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Printable version | Jul 21, 2022 7:58:27 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/prime-ministers-crop-insurance-scheme-sees-poor-coverage-of-scheduled-caste-farmers-in-tamil-nadu/article65663219.ece