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Centre To Raise Livestock Insurance Scheme Coverage

A Parliamentary Standing Committee (PSC) recently recommended that the Centre consider a comprehensive livestock insurance scheme modelled after the Prime Minister's Fasal Bima Yojana in 2022-23. The scheme will be implemented by the Union Animal Husbandry Ministry ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. There are preliminary proposals to exempt cattle rearers from Scheduled Caste (SC) and Scheduled Tribe (ST) communities from premium payments. Currently, less than 1% of the country's cattle population is insured, with an average annual premium of 4.5% of the insured amount.

Yash Saxena
Centre To Increase Livestock Insurance Scheme Coverage
Centre To Increase Livestock Insurance Scheme Coverage

The Animal Husbandry Ministry recently met with various insurance companies and other stakeholders to discuss the issue. "Our effort is to reduce the premium so that more farmers enroll in the scheme," an official said, adding that comprehensive livestock insurance will replace the current Livestock Insurance Scheme. The scheme is operational in 100 districts across the country. The Centrally Sponsored Scheme is managed by the respective State Livestock Development Boards.

The Animal Husbandry Ministry recently told the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture and Animal Husbandry that farmers are frequently caught in the crossfire between State government officials and insurance companies. According to a report submitted to Parliament by the Ministry's panel on Demands For Grants, the Ministry prefers direct transfer of benefits to farmers' accounts.

According to the report, not a single livestock was insured during 2022-23, whereas 1,74,061 animals were insured during 2021-22. "The Committee was informed of the difficulties faced by livestock owners in getting their livestock insured, as well as the measures being taken to simplify the livestock insurance process."Concerned about the lack of insurance during 2022-23, the Committee advised the Ministry to take effective steps to make the process of livestock insurance easier for beneficiaries.

"The Committee also requests that the Department investigate the possibility of developing an app-based Livestock Insurance facility for livestock owners. The Committee would like to be kept informed of the Department's overall progress in this regard," the report continued."

According to the official, lower enrollment in such schemes is due to high policy premium rates and the general economic conditions of farmers. "The government is considering a subsidy on the premium paid by socially marginalized farmers from SC-ST communities," the official added. During the meeting with insurance companies, the Centre emphasized the importance of broadening the scope of the scheme and lowering farmer premiums.

Approximately two lakh cattle died in the country during the Lumpy Skin Disease pandemic. Farmers had asked the government for compensation for their losses. The Centre's goal is to keep premiums low while providing maximum livestock coverage. "Coverage is currently very poor because most farmers are unable to pay premiums." Breeders ensure some exquisite cattle breeds, but the government wants to ensure more animals," the official added. In the face of pandemics such as lumpy skin disease, several farmer organizations have also called for comprehensive livestock and crop insurance.

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