Schlettwein ponders crop failure insurance

…as farmers fear loss of crops

Agriculture, water and land reform minister Calle Schlettwein says the ministry is considering possible crop insurance to compensate farmers who experience crop failure.

Schlettwein made these remarks in parliament on Wednesday while responding to questions posed by Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) leader McHenry Venaani.

Venaani asked Schlettwein how the government plans to come to the aid of crop farmers.

“Think about a crop farmer who has plowed even 100 hectares and there is no rain coming. How is the government coming to the aid of crop farmers whose lands are affected by climate change and drought, especially in the Kavango East and West regions, Ohangwena, Zambezi, and in many other parts of the country?”

Venaani compared the plight of crop farmers to cattle farmers affected by drought who have access to subsidy programmes.

In response, Schlettwein said the ministry currently does not have the resources in their budget to compensate crop farmers in instances of crop failure.

“That does not exist for now, however, we are looking at possible insurance that can help. It is a scheme that is based on soil moisture content, that when the soil moisture is reduced to a certain level, it becomes clear that the crops will fail but it must be over a certain period of time before insurance pays,” Schlettwein said.

He added that the scheme is expensive and funds must be available before such a scheme can commence.

“We are still looking at the scheme but we have not yet made a decision. We are not yet sure whether it is an affordable scheme.”

Schlettwein said the ministry conducts an assessment of the rainy season by the end of March to determine whether there is a drought or not.

“Yes, in some areas we do have problems with crops failing … while in other parts, we do not. We will then decide and propose what assistance is possible to the drought disaster management fund but also what additional funding would be required to ensure that crop farmers are assisted.”

Schlettwein said droughts are a complex situation and the disaster is very difficult to ‘cure’.

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