Index-based insurance could cushion farming troubles – Agriculture

Index-based insurance could cushion farming troubles - Agriculture

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

Agriculture index-based insurance aims to cushion losses experienced from natural disasters such as droughts by spreading the risks to different stakeholders.

Namibia spent more than N$140 million on 16 927 claims for the 2015/16 and 2019/20 drought seasons under the National Drought Scheme Programme for livestock marketing incentives.

This according to Kenneth Matomola, the CEO of the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority (Namfisa), who was speaking at the Agriculture Index-Based Insurance Virtual Workshop that opened on Monday.

The workshop aimed to introduce the concept of agriculture index-based insurance to the industry from a regulatory point of view.

Matomola said Namibia has not been spared the impacts of climate change that has resulted in poor grazing conditions and failed crop cultivation.

“This poses severe negative impacts mainly to communal farmers who either do not have access to or cannot afford traditional insurance to mitigate their risks.”

Harrowing impact

In 2019, Namibia declared a state of emergency due to the widespread drought.

Matomola said about 500 000 Namibians were left food insecure and faced water shortages, while over 100 000 heads of cattle starved, resulting in huge losses for farmers, especially in rural areas.

He said that preliminary estimates of the impact of climate change on natural resources suggest that Namibia could lose between 1 and 6% of GDP annually if no action is taken to adapt to climate change risk management strategies.

He stressed that while the agriculture sector is highly vulnerable it has low access to credit facilities, especially the small-scale and communal farmers.

According to him the key objectives of agriculture index-based insurance is to reduce vulnerability, increase crop or livestock output and ultimately reduce volatility in the sector through direct empowerment.

Tailor-made

The concept of agriculture index-based insurance is also necessitated by the fact that traditional insurance services do not offer tailor-made micro-insurance products and services, while government has been played the mitigating role to that effect.

“Upon realising that many Namibian farmers incurred enormous losses and the government spent a significant amount on the national drought relief programme, Namfisa as a regulator undertook a desktop feasibility study,” said Matomola.

The study investigated, assessed and determined whether introducing a concept of agriculture index-based insurance could be a solution in mitigating the agricultural-related losses.

The desktop study mainly focused on livestock and crop farming index insurance and benchmarked various countries in Sub-Sahara Africa and Asian countries that have implemented similar concepts to draw key lessons.

The study also looked at domestic efforts and innovation that have been carried out in Namibia.

The outcome of the study was presented to the finance ministry who granted permission for the authority to engage key stakeholders to strategise together on the way forward.

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