|THE past years have proved beyond doubt that agriculture in Zimbabwe is susceptible to weather vagaries. The unpredictability of mother nature, the impact of natural disasters and other risks to farmers is so intense that it no longer can be taken so lightly.|
Elsewhere in this paper we carry a story where heavy hailstones and strong winds severely damaged 80 percent of tobacco due for harvesting and about 80ha of knee-high maize crop.
In case of natural calamities, farmers bear the loss of their produce/crop and face debt defaults.
The heavy hailstones and strong winds also destroyed farm property and uprooted trees of various sizes at Rungutai Farm, owned by Retired Colonel Topira Mutasa and the adjacent Ziswa Farm – with the damage estimated at hundreds of thousands dollars.
Natural calamities often times plague the summer crop with floods washing away crops, droughts scotching the crops before reaching maturity, diseases and pests plaguing and compromising crop growth and hailstorms, as evidenced on Saturday, wiping and levelling standing crops as if someone had moved through it with a mower. All these events severely affect farmers through loss in production and farm income, and they are beyond the control of the farmers.
They brew uncertainty which prevents farmers from maximising production and directly discourages banks from lending the critical financial assistance to farmers. More so, the risk bearing capacity is compromised due to scarce resources and cannot withstand risks which are disastrous in nature.
A serious crop failure means not only the loss of farm income, but also the loss of investment for the next crop season. This can lead to farmer indebtedness. The question is how to protect farmers by minimising such losses.
It was such a relief, in the case of Rtd Col Mutasa that the crop was insured. Crop insurance, the most popular risk management tool for farmers, is key to financial stability, enabling farmers to supply food and forex-earning non-food crops to our country despite severe weather and other challenges that impact their business.
It reduces the risk burden of the farmers and is primarily a way of protecting farmers against unforeseen eventualities in crop production.
Crop insurance spreads the crop losses over space and time, provides social security to the farmers, helps in maintaining their dignity, offers self-help, encourages large investments in agriculture for improving crop yield and increasing agricultural production. Hence, the interests and investments of farmers need to be safeguarded by crop insurance. Farmers who suffer crop losses from any covered peril, can rest assured that crop insurance indemnities will be paid timely.
All the farmer is required to do is notify their crop insurance agent within stipulated hours of the initial discovery of damage; continue to care for the crop and protect it against further damage if possible and, obtain consent from the insurance company prior to destroying any of the insured crop.
Zimbabwean farmers have suffered huge loss in the past during natural calamities and the bitter truth is that this cannot be ignored any further.
Therefore, insurance is the way to protect the farmers from such damages. Insurance of crop production provides relief to farmers when the crop is damaged.
Let’s face it, people who make their living from agriculture have really been hit hard and it’s important to understand the basic concept, structure and need for crop insurance in our country. Agricultural insurance is one method by which farmers can stabilise farm income and investment and guard against disastrous effect of losses due to natural hazards.
Crop insurance not only stabilises the farm income but also helps the farmers to initiate production activity after a bad agricultural year. It cushions the shock of crop losses by providing farmers with a minimum amount of protection. It spreads the crop losses over space and time and helps farmers make more investments in agriculture.