GS (M) Paper-3: “e-technology in the aid of farmers”; “Technology missions”
Agricultural Insurance and Technology
India is an agrarian country. It had been leading in agriculture since the very starting but it suffers from dual economy as it fails to keep up with technology.
- Government insurance for agriculture was an alien concept until a decade ago.
- Since 2005, this started to change when India and China began expanding their agricultural insurance plans.
- After that India has turned around to become one of the largest agricultural markets in the world, with index based crop insurance covering a wide range of crops in major provinces of the country.
- Still, there is a case of dual economy as banking channel needs to reach rural markets through new marketing mechanisms apart from the traditional methods as there exists several challenges like insufficient risk coverage, delayed and inaccurate claim assessment and leakage.
The present situation:
- The government has taken up several measures to revive the country’s agricultural economy in its 2017-18 budget.
- The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bhima Yojana (PMFBY) has strained on the agricultural insurance program along with others allocated for the sector. This is expected to boost credit flow and help to provide financial stability to farmers apart from a special attention to the crop irrigation and insurance program.
- The government, through PMFBY is targeting to bring 50% farmers under the scheme by 2018.
- The entire sector needs to get updated to new technology so that it could work effectively.
- It is important to acquire accurate forecasts for seasonal crop production and early field warnings so that an action plan could be implemented for irrigation, agricultural credit and agricultural inputs.
- It is extremely important that the stakeholders such as government, insurers and agricultural research agencies are adequately equipped with necessary technological features to deal with agricultural issues.
- It is necessary to keep time lags in publishing crop yields statistics for the cropping period to a minimal.
- To predict yield more accurately, intensive models to take into account data like weather and soil parameter is essential.
- The concept of agricultural insurance will boost credit flow and provide financial stability to the farmers.
- Introduction to new technology will help to forecast certain risks and thus actions could be pre-planned.
- The IoT promises increased yields, reduced costs and other efficiencies, with the deployment of sensors, connectivity and analytics. Soil sensors as an IoT technology can also be used to broadcast real-time information on the state of the soil.
- Using technology and remote senses, the crop, its pattern, weather and climate conditions and many such factors could be estimated thus resulting to complete information and effective cropping, in this way loss could be dodged.
- In addition, mobile apps could prove to be useful to record the insurance details easily.
- To boost the credit flow in agriculture, an allocation of 10000 crore to Bharat net project and a target of reaching nearly 150,000 gram panchayat with high speed Internet is set to lay is foundation.
- To ensure flow of credit to small farmers, all functional primary agriculture credit societies (Pacs) will be integrated with the core banking system of district cooperative banks.
- Banks are the core distribution channel for the PMFBY and digitization will ensure penetration increases and that each farmer having access to credit is protected.
- The insurers too could stay assured by relying on this new phase of the sector.