World Bank interested in expanding satellite-based flood insurance scheme: IWMI

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Patna, Feb 23 (IANS) After the success of the pilot project on Index-Based Flood Insurance (IBFI) for farmers in Bihar, the World Bank has shown interest in helping to scale up the plan across eastern India, officials said.

“The World Bank is interested in scaling up IBFI in flood-prone districts across eastern India following the successful implementation of its pilot in flood-affected villages in Muzaffarpur district in Bihar, Griraj Amarnath, research group leader of water risks and disaster at the Colombo-based International Water Management Institute (IWMI), told IANS here.

Amarnath said the World Bank was in talks with the IWMI to promote IBFI. “I am discussing the IBFI with the World Bank and we are hopeful that the outcome will be positive to provide help to flood-affected farmers on a large scale in India,” he said.

IBFI uses advanced modelling techniques with satellite data to enable quick insurance pay-outs to those affected by floods. The institute used remote-sensing data and simulation modelling to provide regular updates on flooding to the Emergency Operation Centre of the Disaster Management Department in support of relief operations and damage assessment. Satellite data has never been used before for providing insurance to flood-affected farmers.

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According to Alok K. Sikka, India representative at IWMI, the Agriculture Insurance Company of India (AICI) had agreed to pay out money to farmers based on the scientific method. “It is a real test on the ground and we have succeeded,” Sikka said. The IBFI pilot project was carried out by IWMI in collaboration with Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), AICI and Swiss RE, a leading global reinsurer.

“It is a more reliable and credible way to safeguard rural livelihoods,” Sikka said, adding that IWMI was likely to use it in more districts in Bihar and other flood-prone states in eastern India.

The pay-out decision was determined on the basis of data indicating the actual depth and duration of flood waters in the paddy fields. Sikka said that of the 2,000 farm households involved in pilot-testing, 43 would receive compensation via bank transfers. On Thursday, the Union Minister for Agriculture, Radha Mohan Singh, handed over “dummy cheques” to 15 of the 43 farmers at the ICAR complex for Eastern Region here. The ministry had also agreed to discuss the IBFI scheme.

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Amarnath said the 14 farmers, who suffered total crop loss, received the full insured amount of Rs 20,000 per hectare. But other farmers received insured amount of Rs 7,000 to Rs 14,000, depending on the loss of crop. Within the the pilot-project area, floods had affected 36,620 hectares of paddy, mainly in the Madhurpatti and Bhatgaon villages.

In the initial pilot stage, the insurance product was fully subsidised, covering rice crops in the 2017 monsoon season — from early July until the end of October, with a total insured value of about Rs 46 lakh.

IWMI is a non-profit, scientific research organisation focusing on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries. It had selected Bihar for this pilot project as it is the country’s most flood-prone state that suffers heavy agriculture losses every year.

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Experts have time and again stated that crop insurance can help farmers deal with the risks and losses associated with disasters like floods or droughts.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at [email protected])

–IANS

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