The government claims it has mechanisms, right from compensation to insurance, in place to support farmers in case of crop loss. But ground reality differs
"We rely on our years of experience to determine crop loss. Information provided by our contacts in the villages also comes handy"
Nand Kishore, patwari, Mathura
No scientific mechanism to assess crop loss. Patwari, or village accountant, follows an archaic procedure laid out in the 11th century to assess the damage. Though it requires physical verification of fields, they hardly do it. Damage report is prepared based on pure guess work. Some farmers bribe patwaris to bring crop loss at par with compensation norms.
Down To Earth's assessment shows about 50 per cent of beneficiaries do not figure in patwari's list. This flawed data is then sent to Union agriculture ministry, which calculates compensation based on the "guess work" of patwaris.
Very few affected farmers get compensation for crop loss. Even fewer get it in time to overcome the hardship caused by crop failure, or to pay back loans, or invest in next season's crops. Those who get it say the amount is meagre compared to the value of the crop lost. Farmers and farmers' activists say even the maximum compensation amount is 70 per cent less than the market value of the crop lost. The compensation amount is further divided if the farm is in the name of more than one person.
Farce in insurance
Only 4 per cent farmers have insurance to cover crop loss risk; of them, 90 per cent buy policies as it's mandatory for availing loan. The unwillingness is mostly because settlement of insurance claims takes 18-24 months. Small farmers find the premium high, and the sum assured hard to come by. In case of a calamity, banks directly deduct the loan amount from the compensation money. Crop loss is calculated on the basis of average loss incurred in an administrative area, and not by an individual. This leaves most affected farmers high and dry.
"The government should increase the compensation amount to ` 80,000 per hectare"
"Banks treat insurance premium as collateral security to the sanctioned credit" S S Raju,