'Increase penetration of crop insurance to prevent farmer suicides'

  • Jatinder Kohli, Hindustan Times, Jalandhar
  • Updated: Nov 11, 2014 23:31 IST

With the state recording 4,500 farmers and farm labour suicides due to indebtedness over the decade from 2001-2011, according to detailed surveys by Panjab University, Chandigarh, Punjabi University Patiala and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, it seems that the establishment has only now woken up to the challenge of tackling the social problem head-on.

A team headed by agriculture department joint director Balwinder Singh Sohal, Sanjay Walia of economy and sociology department of PAU, and Jalandhar chief agriculture officer Swatantra Kumar Aeri visited Maharashtra on November 2 to make a comparative study on the structure of farming between Punjab and that state and recommend remedial measures.

HT has learnt that the team is set to recommend that the crop insurance scheme be started at the village level instead of the block level.

The team would also be advising the state government to set up a policy in consultation with insurance companies.

"We have discovered that the insurance cover at the regional level will help farmers reduce losses and the cost of production of crop, due to deficient weather or any other reason."

Other possible recommendations

Apart from insurance, the team is also set to recommend changing the loan policy for farmers so that that dependence should be shifted to co-operative societies to use machinery on rent basis.

The team visited Nagpur, Yavatmal, Amrawati and Wardha, all in Vidarbha, in the eastern region of Maharashtra during its three-day stay and held talks with officials of the agricultural department.

One of members of the team, for instance, said that if yield of a crop in particular village came down from a set benchmark, then there was a provision for insurance.

"In Punjab, most farmers take unproductive loans by leasing their land and their inability to pay leads them to end their life."

He also added that co-operative societies should be strengthened and farmers should also be motivated to take machinery on rent rather than taking loan from banks to purchase new agri-based machinery tools.

On Wednesday, the members of the team would make a presentation at Chandigarh. Members of another team which visited Andhra Pradesh with the same objective will also make a presentation.

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