At least 12,000 farmers across the country will be paid Sh100 million in compensation for crop failure.
The growers had insured their maize crop last season in a project the government is banking on to achieve food security.
Though the farmers hail from 20 counties, most of the beneficiaries are in Meru, Uasin Gishu, Bungoma, Kilifi, Nakuru and Narok, said Ms Jacinta Ngwiri, head of crop insurance at the Agriculture ministry.
The government has allocated Sh300 million for the project for the 2019/2020 financial year, she said, adding that the programme is being implemented in collaboration with agriculture departments in 27 counties.
“At the time of inception in 2015, we started with 900 farmers, but currently we have registered 425,000 farmers in agriculturally rich counties,” she said.
Farmers insure their crops based on projected harvests, with premiums pegged on production output in each region, besides other risk factors.
Participating insurance companies are CIC, Amaco, Jubilee, UAP Old Mutual, Kenya Orient and APA Insurance.
APA coordinates the project on behalf of the other insurers while the money is channelled through KCB and Equity banks.
“Farmers are embracing crop insurance because they have discovered it mitigates against crop failure,” Ms Ngwiri said. “When rains fail, farmers suffer because their harvests are affected and this is what the project seeks to address.”
In Meru, 1,121 farmers in Imenti North and Tigania West sub-counties will be paid Sh9.4 million, double last season’s payout, signalling growing uptake of the programme, said Mr Martin Munene, a director in the county’s agriculture department. Last year, 253 farmers were paid Sh4.5 million.
“The project will be rolled out in Imenti Central, Buuri, Tigania Central, Igembe Central and Igembe North where farmers have so far paid over Sh1 million in premiums,” he said.
Ms Ngwiri said the government pays 50 per cent of the premium cost, ranging between Sh2,800 and Sh400, depending on the famer’s acreage.
Targeting maize, beans and green grammes for now, the cover will be extended to Irish potatoes in November this year.
In future, it is expected to cover cash crops like tea and coffee.
One of the serious setbacks for Kenyan farmers is failed rains, resulting in poor harvests.
“Financial institutions are not enthusiastic to fund small-scale farmers due to risks involved,” Ms Ngwiri said, “but when these risks are taken care of, we expect that banks will start funding the farmer, thus ensuring that they have access to resources to buy farm inputs, which is a major challenge.”
Crop insurance follows a similar programme for livestock keepers that is already in operation.