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Agronomist notebook: Does crop insurance really work?

Friday June 26 2020
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A maize farm ravaged by hailstorm in Nyeri. Crops vary greatly in size, type and environmental conditions, hence the need to get insurance services that meet your needs. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ANN MACHARIA

Even though the agriculture industry is classified as an essential service during the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers are still incurring huge losses due to natural calamities such as flooding, which has swept away crops on farms and some livestock.

Think of the frustration of waking up one day to find all your livestock stolen or dead and without any other means of income.

The losses incurred are so severe that some farmers are unable to continue with farming.

However, the same way we have life insurance and health insurance, among others, it’s possible to insure farm produce or assets.

This can help increase the farmer’s resilience and production, as the insurance cover protects him or her from unseen setbacks.

In most cases, when deciding to buy crop or animal insurance, one of the most common questions in farmers’ minds is: Can the insurance pay back?

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The answer to this question depends on the insurance company or policy you choose to take.

Crops vary greatly in size, type and environmental conditions, hence the need to get insurance services that meet your needs. Get insurance that is simple, affordable and relevant to you.

Some insurance companies are using modern technology such as automatic weather stations and mobile payments, which helps send signals in case of crop failure. 

For instance, after planting the seeds, undesirable weather events such as delayed rains, drought and excess rainfall cause production losses.

With the modern technology relying on actual data and comparing it with the expected rainfall for each growth stage of the product, this reduces the number of field visits and makes it easy to compensate.

Understand the terms and conditions for the insurance services since different companies have different policies as regards the services they offer.

PREVIOUS HISTORY OF THE FARM

Most companies pay for damages to crops arising from hail storms, fire, drought, excessive rainfall frost and floods.

Others have an insurance cover that takes care of the farm assets and equipment such as the greenhouse, solar system and irrigation facilities.

Insurance works on a guaranteed yield, which therefore means the company needs to agree with the farmer to provide the previous history of the farm.

This shows the need for the farmer to ensure farm records are well kept.

With crop insurance, one has greater access to agriculture credit because financial institutions accept the crop policy documents as a form of loan security.

In case of natural calamity, both the farmer and the financier do not suffer because the insurance compensates for the loss.

Farmers can repay their loans during the time of crop failure with the support of the right insurance partner.

Get an insurance company that offers compensation within a short duration as this enables you to re-invest.

Insurance companies sensitise farmers by creating awareness to help them understand the effect of natural calamities and to protect their farms.

With the insurance, farmers feel confident investing in their farms and produce enough food to feed their communities.

In most cases, crop loss or failure that results from poor or wrong application of pesticides, for example, are usually not covered.

Also, losses due to delayed harvesting that results in post-harvest losses are not usually compensated. Some also do not compensate for theft of the farm produce while others do.

In case of a natural calamity such as flash floods, it’s always important to communicate to the insurance company so that they can send their representative to access the level of damage. 

This makes it easy to agree on the next course of action rather than waiting and reporting later.

Before taking insurance, it’s thus important to understand the policies effectively to ensure the cover will be of benefit to you in case of crop failure.

In case of animal insurance, the higher the number of animals, the better the rates.
 

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