By Macneil Kalowekamo
About 50,000 Malawian farmers have been targeted by the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) with a weather-based index insurance (WBI) to protecting farmers from crop losses due to bad weather.
WBI is one of the components under a project called Scaling Up Climate Resilient Solutions (SCRS) for Smallholder Farmers in Malawi that Nasfam is implementing.
Project Coordinator for SCRS at Nasfam Emmanuel Nasasara told Malawi News Agency that weather-based insurance will enable low income farmers to better manage climate risk in their various agricultural practices.
“The project has the potential to build the resilience of smallholder farmers by providing a pay-out in bad years towards their survival and protection of assets,” Nasasara said.
He said that through this type of insurance contract, the insurance company will rely on rainfall recordings in different places and if the gauges record below an agreed threshold, the insurance will pay out automatically.
Weather-based insurance is seen as an attractive way of managing weather and climate risks because it uses the weather index such as rainfall to determine payouts, according to Research in Action, a research program on climate change, agriculture and food security (CCAFS) run by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT).
According to CIAT, a number of African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique have already experimented with several related insurance schemes.
The project by Nasfam is expected to roll out the scheme starting with four districts of Mzimba, Nkhota kota, Mchinji and Zomba.
Provision of ICT-based weather information services is one of the climate resilient solutions under SCRS that is expected to complement the insurance scheme.
“Weather information can be impactful if combined with specific advice or tips on the actions that need to be taken by the farmers to address weather patterns.
Accurate weather information and forecasts enable farmers to make informed decisions and take advantage of favourable climate condition,” Nasasara said
Nasfam has already taken the information about to insurance scheme to farmers through its radio program Ulimi ndi bizinesi aired on Zodiak Radio.
Felix Shombe of Makono Farmers Club in Ngwelero Extension Planning Area (EPA) is one of the 4500 farmers in Zomba who are looking forward to embrace WBI.
He says he is one of the people to undergo the painful impact of climate related risks such as drought and is ready to be a client.
“When I heard about the project on radio, I went to confirm it to our Nasfam supervisor here. This insurance will cushion our investments in agriculture from any threats,” said Shombe who lost about K170,000 invested on his combined 5-acre field of tobacco and maize in the 2016 drought.