One proven tool to increase farmers’ resilience is crop insurance, but with few insurers entering the market, government support is critical.
Food security depends on reliable harvests from smallholder farmers, but erratic weather is making their job increasingly risky. In 2018 droughts cut into harvests across Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zambia – and many thousands of hard-working farmers struggled to make ends meet.
To ensure a steady food supply, governments must secure the livelihoods of the farmers who grow our food and one proven tool to increase farmer resilience is crop insurance, which helps farmers weather poor harvests and adapt to a changing climate.
One Acre Fund is a non-profit social enterprise working to help smallholders grow their way out of hunger. The fund is proudly supported by Virgin Unite and was one of the seven Big Ideas chosen for last year’s Audacious Project.
One Acre Fund is one of the largest purchasers of crop insurance in Africa and they have seen the benefits for farmers first-hand. But few insurers want to enter the market, making government support critical. Progressive government programs, like the Kenya Agriculture Insurance Programme, can lead the way.
Rose Mukagatare, who supports a family of seven on her farm in Karongi, Rwanda, says: “Before the dry season wasn’t so harsh. There was still some rain to keep the crops alive. Now, the whole village turns yellow. There is no food for the livestock and no water for the land. The balance is gone.”
In the short term, crop insurance can help reduce hunger. One Acre Fund offers crop insurance as part of our standard agricultural service package to farmers in five African countries. When weather harms their crops, farmers like Rose get reimbursed for a portion of their upfront investment in seeds and fertiliser, easing the immediate financial pressure of a poor harvest.
In the long term, insurance can increase resilience. Farmers who purchase hybrid seeds suited to their local climate reliably harvest more food. But many farmers are understandably nervous to spend money on high-quality seed if they fear a bad year. When farmers are confident of crop insurance coverage, they are more willing to try modern farming methods – a key to bigger harvests.
Greater adoption of crop insurance should be led by governments and by putting good policies into action. Learn how this can be done by visiting the One Acre Fund website and subscribing to their blog.
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