Crop Cutting in Haryana State Halted: Technology to the Rescue?

The in­tro­duc­tion of the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) in­sur­ance scheme in In­dia this year has led to a widely re­ported in­crease in the up­take of agri­cul­tural in­sur­ance across the coun­try.

The scheme has been wel­come news to the In­dian farm­ing com­mu­nity, who for many years have felt they were not com­pen­sated ad­e­quately or in a timely manner for losses in­curred dur­ing the grow­ing sea­sons. How­ever, there are a num­ber of as­pects to be ad­dressed be­fore the scheme can be con­sid­ered a suc­cess, and one of the most not­able is regarding Crop Cut­ting Ex­per­i­ments (CCEs).

CCEs are used to as­cer­tain the yield for no­ti­fied crops un­der the scheme, which are then mea­sured against the in­sur­ance threshold yields to de­ter­mine pay­out lev­els. They must be under­taken on-site prior to har­vest­ing and pose a lo­gis­ti­cal burden in terms of the timely and ac­cu­rate col­lec­tion of sen­si­tive data, es­pe­cially when they are re­quired in such high vol­umes, as tens of thou­sands of CCEs are re­quired across the coun­try.

Issues with collecting CCEs has recently made the news, with the suspension of all CCE activity in the northern state of Haryana.  Avoid­ing head­lines such as this recent quote from the Times of India is a pri­or­ity for what many hope is a step change in agri­cul­tural in­sur­ance in In­dia:

“It has also been de­cided that the work of CCE will be com­pletely sus­pended un­til the re­quired re­sources, trained man­power with enough bud­get is pro­vided”—Sushil Goyat, Pres­i­dent of Haryana Agricultural Development Officers As­so­ci­ation

Tech­nol­ogy has a role to play in re­duc­ing the logis­ti­cal bur­den of plan­ning, executing, and col­lect­ing CCEs and the data they gather. So far, satel­lite im­agery has been used to plan CCE sched­ules and the de­vel­op­ment of a new mo­bile application that is capable of ge­o-tagging photos should in­crease both the speed of per­form­ing each ex­per­i­ment and the con­fi­dence level in the data gath­ered. Yet there is more that could be done with ex­ist­ing data and crop mod­els to re­duce the need for such large vol­umes of CCEs whilst main­tain­ing or im­prov­ing ac­cu­racy.

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