Spotlight Activity: India Needs to Strengthen Crop Insurance Policies for Better Climate Adaptation
India is among the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Average temperatures in the country have risen by as much as half a degree Celsius between 1956 and 2005. If we continue with our current pace of emissions, by the end of this century, about three-quarters of our population is projected to experience a dangerous level of humid heat, compared to about 15 percent today. There are projections with regard to severe flooding events as well as intense drought conditions for India. Weather extremes will have severe impacts on both water security and food security.
India is an agrarian country with majority of people depending on agriculture. About 60 per cent of the country’s agriculture is rain-fed. India is said to be one of the four most vulnerable countries to climate change and the country could see a cut in agricultural incomes, particularly in unirrigated areas that would be hit hardest by rising temperatures and declines in rainfall. It is among the five countries in the world who are facing risk of being the most vulnerable to food insecurity when moving from the present-day climate to a 2 degree C global warming scenario.
The Economic Survey of Govt of India for 2017-2018, a report that the Govt. brings out before presenting the annual budget in the Parliament, has said that climate change will induce a decrease in incomes of farmers of the country by as much as 25% in some parts of the country. According to this report, “climate change could reduce annual agricultural incomes in the range of 15% to 18% on average, and up to 20% to 25% for unirrigated areas.”
While there are several schemes that both the federal government as well as provincial governments are running to increase income of the farmers, a crucial aspect where the governments have tried to address vulnerability of farmers to climate variability and related distress – through crop failure – is ‘crop insurance’. Currently in the country there are two main crop insurance schemes namely the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) and the Revised Weather-Based Insurance Coverage Scheme (RWBICS).
Status: Falling Behind
However, both these schemes are mired with several problems and have not been able to provide the related succor to the farmers against climate related crop losses they have faced. The PMFBY faces problems such as the delay in crop cutting experiments and its associated high costs, delayed/non-payment of insurance claims to farmers and lack of transparency. The RWBICS, that seems to be still in a pilot mode, has faced many problems such as lack of automatic weather stations (AWS) to monitor the real loss, controversial rules to determine loss, etc. as a result of which the enrollment in this scheme has been falling down. There is a lot of discontent among the farmers on these schemes throughout the nation. Climate Scorecard would rate India’s crop insurance schemes at ONE, because the country has neither considered these schemes as ‘climate adaptation’ schemes nor has been doing much to improve the same to cover all impacted farmers.
Please urge upon the Govt. of India to immediately consider the crop insurance schemes as Climate Adaptation Schemes and provide 100% coverage in these schemes with government guarantee, improved crop loss monitoring systems and timely payments that cover the entire loss to the farmers.
You can write to:
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @drharshvardhan and @moefcc
Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture
Email: email@example.com, Twitter: @AgriGoI