India to launch first major crop insurance scheme on April 1

crop-insurence-reuters (File) Kashmiri farmers thrash paddy crops on the outskirts of Srinagar | Reuters

India will launch its first major crop damage insurance scheme for farmers in the fiscal year starting April 1, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Friday, in what could be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first significant move to address the distress plaguing the country's agricultural sector.

The impact of unseasonal rains and two straight years of drought on agriculture that sustains over two-thirds of India's 1.25 billion people has dented Modi's popularity in the countryside, contributing to a humiliating loss for the premier in elections last year in the largely rural state of Bihar.

Reuters reported last month that India will launch a new farm crop insurance scheme in 2016 and use drones and other technologies to assess crop damage.

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