MIKE MUGALA, Chongwe
JUST at a point when Emmanuel Chanda is getting frustrated because his maize seed has not germinated, he gets a phone call from Focus Insurance asking him to go and get an extra bag of seeds from a local dealer in his home town, Luanshya.
“I have been farming maize for five years now, but I experienced a problem this year when my seed failed to germinate. I was confused and did not know what to do. To my surprise, I received a call from an agro dealer telling me to go and get seeds from a shop,” he says.
Monsanto Seed Company, the producers of Dekalb seed, has in partnership with Focus General Insurance and Pula Advisers launched a seed insurance scheme called Chilala Insurance Cover aimed at improving agricultural productivity of small- scale farmers in Zambia.
The scheme allows small- scale farmers across the country to receive extra seeds as compensation if the seeds they first bought did not germinate as a result of poor rainfall or other adverse weather patterns.
Under the partnership, Monsanto deducts a certain percentage of money from every bag of seed sold and remits it to Focus General Insurance as premium. Pula Advisers, on the other hand, are responsible for offering technological and mechanical support.
When a farmer buys a bag of seed from Monsanto agro- outlet, they are automatically entered into an electronic system.
Pula Advisers have satellites across the country which are able to monitor agro shop dealers across the country.
Emmanuel says the insurance policy could not have come at a better time than now when farmers are struggling with negative effects of climate change.
“It is difficult for most small- scale farmers in the country to buy adequate farming inputs because of economic constraints. Farmers will now be guaranteed of getting seed back in an event it does not germinate,” he says.
Another farmer, Catherine Kalola from Mufulira, says the Chilala insurance policy will help to shield small- scale farmers from the risks of adverse weather patterns.
“I bought seed and planted when it first rained in October, I thought rains had come. But my seed died due to excess heat. I was upset and almost gave up. I later received a text message from Monsanto telling me to go and receive seed,” she says.
Monsanto Seed Company country manager Ndavi Muia says his company is committed to helping small- scale farmers to cope with effects of climate change.
Speaking during the launch of the insurance policy in Chongwe recently, Mr Muia said the scheme will improve the output of small- scale farmers.
“We decided to come up with this insurance product to address the issue of climate change, which is negatively affecting farming. Most of our farmers do not have capacity to re-buy seed in an event that the one they bought does not germinate due to change in the rain-pattern,” he said.
And Focus General Insurance marketing manager Francis Chihanjikenu said the insurance cover will enhance peasants’ contribution to national food security.
“As Focus, we are committed to supplementing Government effort of increasing national food security and promoting the growth of the agricultural sector in the country. We target small scale farmers because of their financial status,” he said.
Meanwhile, Pula Advisers co-founder Rose Goslinga said satellite monitoring enables them to keep track of farmers who buy seed from Monsanto.
“Our role is simply to monitor the location of the farmers who are affected through our agro dealers stationed in various points across the country. We have trained all our agro- dealers in all agro shops across the country to ensure that they teach our farmers how to go about registering when they buy seed,” she says.
The firm begins to monitor farmers after 21 days of planting their seeds.