Centre considers rehaul livestock insurance scheme due to high premium
A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) recently recommended that the Centre adopt a comprehensive livestock insurance system modeled after the Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojana in 2022-23. The initiative would be implemented by the Union Animal Husbandry Ministry ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.
There are preliminary proposals to exempt cattle rearers from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) populations from premium payments. Nowadays, fewer than 1% of the country’s cow population is insured, with an average annual cost of 4.5% of the insured amount.
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The Animal Husbandry Ministry recently met with insurance firms and other stakeholders to discuss the issue. ‘Our objective is to cut the premium so that more farmers join in the scheme,’ an official said, adding that the current Livestock Insurance Scheme will be replaced by a complete livestock insurance. The scheme is currently operational in 100 districts across the country. The different State Livestock Development Boards oversee the Centrally Sponsored Scheme.
The Animal Husbandry Ministry recently informed the PSC on Agriculture and Animal Husbandry that farmers are frequently ensnared in a battle between State government officials and insurance companies. According to a report filed to Parliament by the Ministry’s panel on Demands for Grants, the Ministry supports direct transfer of funds to farmers’ accounts.
According to the data, not a single livestock was covered for 2022-23, whereas 1,74,061 animals were insured during 2021-22. ‘The Committee was informed of the difficulties faced by livestock owners in getting their livestock insured, as well as the initiatives being done to simplify the livestock insurance procedure.’ Concerned about the lack of insurance during 2022-23, the Committee advised the Ministry to take significant steps to make the process of livestock insurance easier for beneficiaries. ‘The Committee further requests that the Department investigate the idea of implementing an app-based Livestock Insurance service for livestock owners.’ ‘The Committee would like to be kept informed of the Department’s overall efforts in this regard,’ the report continued.
According to the official, limited enrolment in such schemes is due to high policy premium rates and farmers’ general economic situations. ‘The government is considering a premium subsidy for socially marginalized farmers from SC-ST communities,’ the official stated. During the meeting with insurance companies, the Centre emphasized the necessity of broadening the scope of the program and lowering the premium paid by farmers.
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Around two lakh cattle died in the country during the Lumpy Skin Disease outbreak. Farmers had asked the government for compensation for their losses. The Centre’s goal is to keep premiums low while providing maximum livestock coverage. ‘Coverage is now quite weak because most farmers are unable to pay premiums.’ Breeders insure some exquisite cow breeds, but the government wants to insure more animals,’ the official noted.
In the face of pandemics such as lumpy skin disease, several farmer organizations have also called for comprehensive livestock and crop insurance.