Climate change-induced disasters have continued to hit farmers, affecting thousands of hectares of crops and livestock.
This is why the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources has encouraged farmers to take advantage of the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme to cushion them against such losses.
Minister Gerardine Mukeshimana made the remarks on Tuesday, January 14, 2020, during a press briefing in Kigali on activities in the agriculture and livestock sector.
The Minister said that the rains that poured last year (2019) in the farming season A which started in September, has so far destroyed crops on 3,900 hectares, and killed about 250 livestock which included some 150 cows.
However, Mukeshimana said that the ministry had not yet identified the number of hectares or livestock heads that had insurance coverage and those that had not.
She said that rice was the most affected crop in Gisagara and Bugesera districts.
"We want farmers to use agriculture and livestock insurance especially as we had many disasters in these days," she said.
However, Mukeshimana said in Gisagara District which was more affected by disasters, especially in rice plantations, some of the farmers had thought ahead and bought insurance for their crops.
"Thanks to the insurance, most of them will this week get compensations for the damages they incurred from the disasters," she said.
She said that there are also livestock farmers who have insurance coverage for their animals.
"About 4,000 livestock (cows), and 2,000 hectares of [farmland] have been protected under this insurance," she said.
Unpredictable Season B
"Normally, we face many disasters in season B (which starts in March and ends in June). But, currently, we have had them in this season A (running from September 2019 to February 2020). We are encouraging farmers to insure their crops and livestock because we do not know how the season B will be," she said.
It is the second time farming in Gisagara and Bugesera districts is hit hard by disasters in two consecutive years with floods damaging rice plantations in the two districts.
Particularly in Bugesera District, entire rice plantations on 558 hectares of Rurambi marshland was devastated by floods, leaving farmers counting losses. They subsequently received a government bailout to be able to carry on farming activities.
Under this farming protection scheme launched in April 2019, a farmer pays 4.5 percent of the value of the insured livestock or crops as the insurance premium, while the government also covers 40 percent of that premium as a subsidy.