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PM Fasal Bima Yojana Sees Poor Coverage of SC Farmers in Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu performs poorly in terms of the coverage of Scheduled Caste farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

Chintu Das

Tamil Nadu performs poorly in terms of the coverage of Scheduled Caste farmers under the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY).

According to a perusal of the data on the crop insurance scheme's website, the share of SCs did not exceed 1% of the farmers enrolled in either of the two cultivation seasons—Kharif and Rabi—in the previous three years (2019 to 2021—which could be roughly compared with Tamil Nadu's seasons of Kuruvai and Samba). Despite Tamil Nadu generally enrolling more farmers during the Rabi season, in 2021 certain areas had zero SC coverage. Coimbatore, Erode, Krishnagiri, Theni, and Tiruppur were among them. This did not imply that other districts performed better because Dharmapuri had the greatest coverage rate at 2.88 percent.

It's interesting to note that Scheduled Tribe farmers outperformed SC farmers in the aforementioned years, with their share ranging from 4.53 percent to 10.15 percent. At least 90% of farmers fall into the other two categories, Other Backward Classes and general, which are also evenly distributed.

However, Tamil Nadu is not the only state in which the SC issue exists. Except for Chhattisgarh and Tripura, no other State exceeded the two-digit threshold in the 2021 Kharif season.

The inadequate coverage of SCs is attributed to a variety of factors. According to an official, hardly many SC farmers grow paddy, the main crop covered by the insurance scheme in Tamil Nadu. They typically consume millets and oilseeds, which are included in the insurance scheme. For instance, roughly 36% of farmers enrolled in Tiruvannamalai district during the 2021 Kharif season belonged to the SC. Millets are a significant crop there.

Veteran academic C. Lakshmanan, who studies issues involving the SCs and the farm sector for the Madras Institute of Development Studies, is unsurprised by the facts. In addition to the economic issue, societal discrimination prevents SC farmers from obtaining finance to raise their performance. They cannot engage in intensive agriculture or grow paddy. This is why their coverage is still appallingly inadequate, he says.

Apart from the aspect of governance, a veteran civil servant who has been monitoring the issues facing SCs as a member of the community says there may be inconsistencies with the data. He notes that "inherent structural difficulties" in the State's rural economy work against the SCs and provide another explanation for the SCs' poor coverage.

According to the official, Malayali, one of the 36 tribes in the State that is primarily concentrated in the districts of Dharmapuri, Vellore, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, and Salem, has contributed to the STs' better performance because it is this tribe that engages in farming, particularly horticultural crops, in places like Kollimalai and Javadhu hills.

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