Government has introduced a K100 fee for “Weather Index Insurance” for farmers, a move which Agriculture Minister Dora Siliya says has been instigated by climate change.

Speaking when she featured on the PF Interactive Forum at Chrisma Hotel last night, Siliya said climate change was here to stay and government needed funds to mitigate its effects.

“We are also saying let us support the farmers on the e-voucher, on FISP to grow more than maize. So we as government give K1700, the farmer makes a contribution of K400. For the first time this year, from that contribution of K400, K100 is going to be Weather Index Insurance. And the reason we want a farmer to contribute within that K400 is because climate change is here to stay, we have seen what it can do, it can come from floods- drought and everything in between. And we are saying if that happens, the small farmer is the one who suffers the loss because they will have no recourse,” Siliya said.

“Now with this insurance, monies are going to be pulled into a pool and you pray that a disaster does not happen, you want to know that a farmer will have something to fall back on. This Weather Index Insurance where each farmer is going to contribute K100, all the one million farmers we are supporting, they are making a K400 contribution, K100 out of that K400 is going to be weather index so that when there is a disaster, they would reimburse the FISP support and they can buy more inputs for that season and plant or they can wait for the next season and replant. What we want is for the farmer to be supported.”

She said government through her Ministry was supporting ten different crops as a way of making the crop diversification goal a reality.

“So this bumper harvest is not just about maize, we think crop diversification is working because now FISP is supporting ten crops; white maize, orange maize , cassava, sorghum, millet, cotton, rice, beans, sunflower, I don’t know if I have left out something but now we are going to support ten crops. And if on this left hand government is going to support ten crops and it means on this side FRA should also be able to buy ten crops,” Siliya said.

Siliya however urged farmers to not always think about fertilizer and seed but to also think about pesticides because they were also part of agriculture.

“We are working with FRA so that they should attempt this year to not just buy white maize but also buy rice, and soya beans as the beginning this year because they also need to have logistics such as packaging and storage in place, then next year they can begin to buy all the crops that government is supporting. FRA is not the only buyer on the market but we want to take the lead that if we can be talking about crop diversification! Then we must also take the lead to show that there should also be a market for commodities of maize,” said Siliya.