The government will not go ahead to implement crop insurance owing to complexities relating to payment of premium and coordination with farmers, said a top official of the agriculture ministry yesterday.
“This is the policy of the government,” said Mohammad Moinuddin Abdullah, senior secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture, at a workshop at Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council in the capital.
The Department of Agricultural Extension (DAE) organised the event to discuss a draft National Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP) 2018, which contains a provision stating that the government would consider introducing crop insurance to help growers recover from natural disaster-induced losses.
Abdullah said inclusion of the crop insurance provision was a “violation” of government policy. The prime minister and agriculture minister have made it clear that the government would not be providing the insurance, he said.
“And, I think those who included the provision should be punished. It should be examined why this provision was included,” he said.
“None will attend any meeting related to crop insurance and give speech. And if any point is raised in any discussion related to crop insurance, it should be made clear that the government will not get into crop insurance,” said Abdullah.
Talking to The Daily Star later, he said the decision had not been taken anew. “Crop insurance had never existed and we will not do this,” he said.
“Who will pay the premium? Who will coordinate with farmers?” he said.
The comments came against the backdrop of state-run Sadharan Bima Corporation having just completed the piloting of a “Weather Index Based Crop Insurance” project in Rajshahi, Sirajganj and Noakhali districts.
Asian Development Bank provided Tk 16.38 crore while the government bore the rest of the project cost of Tk 21.34 crore.
The Manila-based multilateral lender earlier this year called for government investment to be scaled up for sustainable agriculture insurance, saying it was a useful instrument for shifting financial risks away from farmers.
Finance Minister AMA Muhith, in several of his past budget speeches, talked about introducing crop insurance for farmers due to natural disasters such as floods, droughts and cyclones.
Farmers suffer from a recurrence of floods, cyclones and other calamities. But they cannot protect themselves and their produce in the absence of an insurance scheme.
Abdullah yesterday said the cabinet has approved a National Agriculture Policy 2018 and it would be published soon.
He recommended that the DAE finalise the NAEP 2018 in light of the recently approved agriculture policy.
Wais Kabir, executive director of Krishi Gobeshona Foundation, spoke of a threat posed by trans-boundary diseases. He advocated for developing local diagnostic facilities and improving skills of agricultural extension workers.
The Daily Star News