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Natural Disasters and Crop Protection

Since Independence, India has borne the brunt of a large number of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, drought and pest attacks. The main reason why India is susceptible to such disasters is because of its geographical location, weather and other physical features. The rising population of the country has driven farmers to settle in risky areas like flood plains, drought-prone areas, cyclone-prone areas and seismic zones. Natural disasters leading to a failure of crops play havoc with the economy of a country. Prices would rise to an extremely high level and the poor would starve.

The best way to deal with such disasters is to be prepared for any eventuality. Keeping this in mind the government has developed contingency plans for farmers to tackle natural disasters before they strike. The government also provides compensation and other financial aid to farmers who are affected by natural disasters. This is done to encourage them to continue to invest in and produce agricultural commodities.


The monsoons play a critical role in determining whether the harvest will be bountiful, average or poor in any given year. Excess rainfall leads to the overflowing of rivers, streams and lakes. This extra water fills low-lying fields and creates a flood situation. Floods destroy not only lives and property but also the entire crop production work carried out in the summer. Certain crops cannot bear excess water and they die leaving the farmer with a burden of debt. The National Commission on Floods has assessed the flood prone area in India to be around 12 per cent of the total area.

When floods take place, both the Central and State Governments announce various plans to minimize the damage. Farmers are covered under schemes of the government. Activities of the government include provision of shelter, food supplies, clearing of debris and vocational training. The Prime Minister announces compensation from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the next of kin of those killed in natural disasters whenever they occur.


Drought is said to have occurred when the principal monsoon fails or is deficient. It leads to crop failure due to insufficient irrigation, shortage of drinking water as well as undue hardship to the rural and urban community. There is no provision for declaration of drought by Government of India. Drought is declared for each State or part of the State by the State Governments. The important steps followed in India to control and manage drought are as follows:

  • Monitoring and early warning: The Indian Meteorology Department carries out the function of drought monitoring and forecasting. The agricultural department comes out with contingency plans to help farmers save their crops in case a drought like situation emerges. Here is the latest weather situation and crop advisory (External website that opens in a new window) prepared by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (External website that opens in a new window).
  • Drought Declaration: States monitor rainfall at mandal or tehsil levels and gather information from remote sensing agencies. If the information proves that drought has occurred then the State Government may declare a situation of drought. The Central Government then aides the financial and institutional processes to provide relief to the affected.
  • Monitoring and management of drought impacts: The Central Government provides financial assistance in accordance with relief norms laid by the Finance Commission. Assistance to the States is given in the form of Calamity Relief Fund, which is released to the States in two instalments, one in May and the other in October.

Plant Protection

One of the most significant pest management schemes run by the government is the Integrated Pest Management Scheme (IPM) - External website that opens in a new window. This scheme aims at the best mix of all known pest control measures to keep the pest population below the economic threshold level or ETL. The scheme is 100 per cent centrally sponsored. The Central Government also runs a scheme to monitor and control the locust population.

The government has set up the National Plant Protection Training Institute (External website that opens in a new window) in Hyderabad to impart training in plant protection methods. This institute specializes in human resource development in plant protection technology by organizing long and short duration training courses on different aspects of plant protection. It also imparts training to foreign nationals sponsored through bilateral programmes with various agencies.

More information on plant protection is available through pest management and plant protection schemes (External website that opens in a new window) of the Government.

Crop Insurance

Crop production depends on the vagaries of weather and prevention of attacks from pests. As the weather is extremely hard to predict even for top professionals and pests can attack anytime, it helps to have some crop insurance. This insurance protects you from most eventualities like floods, droughts, crop diseases and attacks by pests.

An All-Risk Comprehensive Crop Insurance Scheme (CCIS) for major crops was introduced in 1985, coinciding with the introduction of the Seventh-Five-Year Plan. The National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (External website that opens in a new window) or NAIS subsequently replaced it in 1999-2000. The NAIS was originally managed by the General Insurance Company (External website that opens in a new window). Later on, a new body called the Agriculture Insurance Company of India (External website that opens in a new window) was formed to implement this scheme.

The National Agricultural Insurance Scheme is also known as the Rashtriya Krishi Bima. It is a comprehensive scheme that provides insurance coverage and financial support to farmers in the event of failure of any of the notified crops as a result of natural calamities, pests and diseases. The scheme also encourages farmers to adopt progressive farming practices, high value inputs and modern technology. NAIS extends to all States and Union Territories.

Other than the NAIS Scheme, the Agriculture Insurance Company of India is also involved in creating and executing other insurance schemes related to agriculture and allied subjects. Some such schemes are the Varsha Bima (External website that opens in a new window), Sukha Suraksha Kavach (External website that opens in a new window) and Coffee Insurance (External website that opens in a new window).

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on:24-02-2011