By Job Ronny Okot
Farmers in northern Uganda have decried insufficient information on agricultural insurance scheme in the country.
Agriculture insurance provides farmers a solution for making their revenue more predictable as they will be protected against financial losses caused by the loss of their crops and livestock over a season resulting from pests and diseases; natural calamities, such as floods, hail and drought.
In financial year 2016/17, government provided 5 billion shillings to Uganda Insurance Agriculture Scheme – UAIS as an insurance subsidy program for both small and large scale farmers to protect them against effects of crops and livestock losses.
John Inyani Isimimaro, a large scale farmer in Kiryandongo district disclosed that government policies are not being translated to benefit local farmers to enable access to credit facilities.
Another commercial farmer Felix Onencan, has lost over 50 acres of soybean and rice crop gardens to elephants in Nwoya but says he has no idea of the available insurance scheme to help him safeguard against such.
Johnson Mukala, a Project Supervisor with Opportunity Bank, a member of the agricultural consortium admits that whereas insurance and loan facilities exist, the information is hardly known by many farmers in the country.
Vincent Okumu, a retired teacher Nwoya district is one of the few small scale farmers who managed to benefit from a tractor loan saying it enabled him venture into farming.
The scheme is a Public Private Partnership – PPP arrangement with Uganda Insurers Association (UIA), the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Finance implementing an agriculture insurance premium subsidy scheme over a five-year period.
The insurance policies cover a broad range of farms from small rural acreages to traditional production farms to the largest farms with commercial exposures from drought index insurance to livestock insurance.
Crops covered under this scheme include coffee; maize, beans, rice, cotton, bananas, and oil seeds like sunflower, simsim, soybean, groundnuts. Other crops also include fruit trees, tea, sorghum, barley and Irish potatoes. Meanwhile, livestock include cattle (beef & diary), poultry, pigs and fish.
The Seventh National Agriculture and Food Security Forum held in June 2018 in Kampala under the theme: “Mitigating Agriculture Risks to enhance Food Security and Agriculture Commercialization in Uganda” advocated for more adoption of agricultural insurance to guard against risks.
According to Agro-Consortium indicate that insurance premium services have grown to 75% (4.2bn annually) with about 50,000 farmers under agricultural insurance cover. The statistics also reveal that awareness about the agricultural insurance opportunities remains limited for small-scale farmers in Western, Eastern and Northern region.