New Delhi: The Telangana government is in favour of the Centre's plan to make crop insurance voluntary to farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) citing delayed payment of claim and farmers' reluctance to give premium among other reasons, sources said.

In order to make the PMFBY more effective, the Centre is planning to make certain changes like making crop insurance voluntary to all farmers, removal of high premium crops and giving flexibility to states to provide customised add-on products.

The ministry has sought views from state governments on this.

Telangana government, the sources said, has suggested the Union Agriculture Ministry that it is better to make PMFBY voluntary to farmers because farmers are having reservations about the 'area approach basis' of the scheme and are reluctant to pay premium where there is less risk.

Under the 'area approach' system, there is a defined area for each notified crop where it is assumed that farmers incur similar cost, earn comparable income and face similar risk of crop losses.

The state government has also said that farmers are not happy with the rejections and delayed payments of claims by the insurance companies, they said.

Further, the state government informed the ministry that the crop insurance was made compulsory in 1985 under comprehensive crop insurance scheme for loanee farmers in the country and is still continued under PMFBY also.

"As could be seen, in spite of compulsory nature of the scheme, only 12 to 15 per cent of eligible farmers are covered and the participation by non-loanee farmers on voluntary basis is very meagre," the state government has said.

The state government noted that the coverage of loanee farmers is largely because of efforts of the Department of Agriculture and banks as insurance companies have no infrastructure and manpower in rural areas, the sources added.

Among key suggestions, the sources said the Telangana government has asked the Centre to announce cut-off dates well before the start of the season, ensure that insurance companies create infrastructure and required manpower in rural areas.

It also recommended that state governments may utilise the services of agricultural officers available in the field to enroll the farmers.

Launched in April 2016, PMFBY provides comprehensive crop insurance from pre-sowing to post-harvest period against non-preventable natural risks at extremely low premium rate of 2 per cent for kharif crops, 1.5 per cent for rabi crops and 5 per cent for horticulture and commercial crops. (PTI)

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