Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is set to roll out National Agriculture Insurance scheme to cover all farmers in the country in this financial year 2018/2019.
According to MAAIF,s Permanent Secretary Pius Wakabi Kasajja, the move aims at protecting farmers against bad weather and also increasing investment in the sector.
Speaking at the MAAIF Sector Review meeting for the Financial year 2017/2018 at Speke Resort Munyonyo, Wakabi said extending agriculture insurance to cover the whole country will encourage commercial banks to lend to the agriculture sector.
“We want all our farmers to get involved in agriculture insurance, the scheme will support them in accessing agriculture loans which is still a big challenge,” he explained.
Currently government is implementing the Uganda Agriculture Insurance Scheme (UAIS) as a pilot project.
The objective of the scheme is to caution farmers against losses arising from natural disaster.
At the moment, 54,606 farmers across the country have been enrolled to participate in the pilot project of the Agriculture Insurance scheme.
The rolling out of the National Agriculture Insurance scheme is expected to take over in the financial year 2018/2019 provided government releases the funds for the sector in time.
The Agriculture Insurance Scheme will see the Insurance service providers offer Insurance cover for crops and livestock for both small and large-scale farmers.
Under the scheme, Government will provide premium subsidy funds and sensitization and training of farmers across the country to embrace Agriculture Insurance.
According to Wakabi , all the necessary legal instruments have been worked on adding that the Insurance Regulatory Authority has provided the regulatory oversight and quality control alongside bank of Uganda.
“The two regulators are working tirelessly to see that Agriculture Insurance scheme is implemented in the country. Bank of Uganda on the other hand will be managing the draw down on UAIS Account. We have put in place the Monitoring and Evaluation of the scheme which is being done by the UAIS Technical working team and so far over 54,000 farmers have benefited from the pilot scheme. In the financial year 2017/2018, the insured farmers who lost their crops and livestock were compensated and prepared for the coming season. “
Reacting on the government decision to roll out country wide Agriculture Insurance Scheme, Mario Mangu-Acel, the National Chairperson of Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESSAF) said the scheme will help farmers to mitigate the impact of climate change.
“The Insurance scheme is good for the farmers especially small scale farmers but the challenge is that most Ugandan farmers are still ignorant about Insurance values, thus a call for government to carry out massive Sensitization about the scheme if farmers are to embrace it,” he said.
He added that rolling out Agriculture Insurance Scheme may not solve the biggest problems the sector is challenged with especially during the time of climate change , he advised government to ensure that farmers have access to cheap irrigation technologies to support farmers in irrigating their crops during the dry season.
“The current available technologies are quite expensive and ordinary, farmers in the rural areas cannot afford to buy the gadget, government needs to come in and subsidize the cost of the equipment if farmers are to adopt Irrigation technologies available on the market,” he explained.
During the meeting, the Minister for Agriculture Vincent Ssempijja said government is investing resources towards the construction of infrastructure to support farmers to adopt irrigation technologies.
“We have established about 50 small scale irrigation demonstration schemes across the country and the government has gone ahead to recruit agriculture engineers who are going to work with farmers to ensure that they adopt the irrigation technologies in the country ,“ the Minister said.
Ugandan farmers have experienced two consecutive bad seasons characterized by drought and attacks by the fall army worms, both of which have affected crop production and food prices. Therefore, the introduction of agriculture insurance scheme and investing in irrigation technologies can support farmers to overcome such challenges.