Insuring farmers’ livelihoods

Sok Chan / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
Farmers on an ox cart collect hay in Cambodia. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Ministry of Agriculture, German national development agency GIZ and insurance companies are coming together to discuss a crop insurance system that could potentially safeguard the livelihoods of thousands of farmers across the country.

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Hom Thany, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), addressing participants in a workshop on crop insurance yesterday, said a crop insurance scheme is a necessary part of any sustainable agriculture industry.

She said crop insurance protects farmers’ investments and ensures that even when harvests fail, farmers have sufficient financial resources to reinvest and cover basic household needs like food and healthcare.

“Agribusinesses, credit suppliers, technology partners, and, especially, the government, need to work together to draft a policy that details all financial and logistical aspects,” Mrs Thany said.

However, she said to make it happen in an effective, reliable and sustainable way, solid research needs to be conducted, particularly to learn from the experiences of neighboring countries on what works and what doesn’t.

“I encourage all stakeholders and development partners to join me in this initiative to contribute to protecting farming as well as to secure farmers’ incomes and the livelihoods of our farmers. This is an important step to ensure the sustainable development of the agriculture sector in Cambodia,” Mrs Thany said.

GIZ Cambodia’s country director, Thomas Waldraff, said farming is a key activity in the kingdom but a risky business. To have a successful crop insurance scheme covering all agriculture production, close cooperation between private and public sector was imperative, he added.

“In order to reach out to farmers on crop insurance, the private sector needs government support to gain access to information and data.

“It is crucial for the insurance sector to offer attractive crop insurance service to farmers,” Waldraff explained.

Anja Erlbeck, regional project manager of GIZ’s Remote Sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging Economies (RIICE), said the insurance scheme will be implemented by GIZ with the help of farmers, insurance companies, development partners and government agencies.

“Officially, GIZ introduced crop insurance in July this year, but now we are working to set up this project and to identify partners and design and activity plan with those partners,” she said.

Ny Lyhoung, general manager of Forte Micro Insurance, said insuring farmers can be a very complicated affair, and that all industry stakeholders need to contribute and provide input to the scheme.

“If is only the private companies talking to the farmers, it is going to be really difficult. All stakeholders need to come together to make this happen,” Mr Lyhoung said.

“GIZ has the funds. We bring the insurance experience. Others contribute data and information. Together, it will be a success. Now we are gathering to discuss the role of each player,” Mr Lyhoung said.

Sorn Seun, a farmer from Kampong Speu, said crop insurance, particularly in the rice sector, is crucial to reduce the risk associated with his line of work.

Mr Seun has taken out insurance since 2015. Initially, he was only covered for one hectare of his 4.5-hectare plot, but last year he increased that coverage to 3 hectares.

“Rice is our main crop, so we have to spend some money for protecting our rice in case there is a natural disaster,” Mr Seun said. “I will buy more insurance in the next season,” he added.

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