Extending insurance cover to the agricultural sector would boost the economy thereby helping the nation to attain its much coveted middle income status.
The agricultural sector, which is seen as the backbone of the economy, recorded high output in the first half of this year with optimism that if the sector is insured against risks, further growth would be registered.
"We are trying to build the expertise of the underwriters in the industry so that they can understand, develop and underwrite these particular products in agricultural insurance," Ben Kajwanga, the Director of the College of Insurance said during a capacity building workshop for insurers in Kigali yesterday.
Kajwang noted that despite several interventions like increasing productivity and developing the whole value chain, the insurance industry has not been making enough efforts to insure the sector, thus slowing down the pace of growth.
According to Central bank, there was a decline of 1.3 percent in food crops harvests for season 2012 compared to last year's season A that fetched 5.4 percent due to the heavy rains and floods which destroyed mainly fruits and vegetables that are key to the country's food basket.
"Previously, there were a lot of products on agricultural insurance which did not address the needs of the farmers in totality especially from an insurance point of view," he noted.
The workshop is part of the regional certificate program mein agricultural insurance by Kenya's College of Insurance in partnership with USAID/ East Africa competitiveness and trade expansion programme.
"This programme is in response to a growing demand fore strengthened capacity in agricultural insurance in the region," Kajwanga noted, adding that the successful implementation of the programme will enhance the level of awareness and penetration of agriculture insurance in the region.
Experts are optimistic that extending insurance products to agriculture would further enhance the growth in the country's fragile insurance industry.
The sector registered improvement in performance with its total assets increasing by 24.2 percent to Rwf 169.2 billion by March this year compared to Rwf 136.2 billion at the same period last year.
The National bank of Rwanda Governor, Claver Gatete, says, "We hope that insurance companies will ride on this products for purposes of reaching all stakeholders which go along way on enhancing the growth of agriculture which is the mainstay of many African countries."
Moreover, extending insurance services to the agricultural sector would mitigate against weather and climatic changes thus making the sector less risky for financial institutions.
Through such insurance products, farmers will be assured of compensation by insurance companies in case of losses through drought, flood and livestock death thus mitigating setbacks farmers face.
"We have not yet understood about insurance but this will protect us from losses we have made in agriculture which lowers our income," Christen Murebwayire, a farmer commented in an interview with Business Times.
Sangano Kagabo, the Director of non-bank financial institutions stability at the central bank says that implementation of the agriculture insurance products will go along with set up of infrastructures w such weather index stations to monitor weather changes.