National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (Nasfam) says it intends to reach out to 50 000 smallholder farmers with a weather-based index insurance (WBI) to protect farmers from crop losses due to bad weather.
WBI is one of the components under a project called Scaling Up Climate Resilient Solutions (SCRS) for Smallholder Farmers in Malawi that Nasfam is implementing.
SCRS project coordinator Emmanuel Nasasara said in interview weather-based insurance will enable low-income farmers to better manage climate risk in their various agricultural practices.
“The project has the potential to build the resilience of smallholder farmers by providing a pay-out in bad years towards their survival and protection of assets,” he said.
Nasasara said through this type of insurance contract, the insurance company will rely on rainfall recordings in different places and if the gauges record below an agreed threshold, the insurance will pay out automatically.
Weather-based insurance is seen as an attractive way of managing weather and climate risks because it uses the weather index, such as rainfall, to determine payouts, according to Research in Action, a research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (Ccafs) run by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (Ciat).
According to Ciat, a number of African countries such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi and Mozambique have already experimented with several weather-related insurance schemes.
In Malawi, Mzimba, Nkhotakota, Mchinji and Zomba have been earmarked for the pilot phase of the programme.
Felix Shombe of Makono Farmers Club in Ngwelero Extension Planning Area (EPA) is one of the 4 500 farmers in Zomba who are looking forward to embrace WBI.
“This insurance will cushion our investments in agriculture from any threats,” he said Shombe.