By Tullah Stephen
Farmers in Kenya have a reason to smile after the government announced that it had introduced a crop insurance scheme to cushion them from adverse weather conditions. President Uhuru Kenyatta made the announcement on Wednesday when he officiated the official opening of the Agricultural Society of Kenya fair at Jamhuri Grounds. Farmers in Kenya have been suffering from severe shocks such as droughts and floods in the last few years due to unpredictable weather patterns. The scheme is designed to assist farmers to improve their financial resilience to the challenges and adopt improved production processes to help break the poverty cycle of low investment and low returns.
“A thousand farmers in these counties have already benefitted from the premium subsidy at a cost of Sh300 million,” said President Kenyatta, adding that his administration has also introduced livestock insurance, which is being piloted in Turkana, Wajir, Marsabit, Isiolo and Tana River at a cost of Sh152 million. Drought represents the greatest cause of livestock mortality in the Northern Arid and Semi-Arid Lands and through the scheme, the government intends to purchase drought insurance from private insurance companies on behalf of vulnerable pastoralists.
President Kenyatta also disclosed that the insurance scheme was also is being tested in Bungoma, Nakuru and Embu counties. “The results of the two pilot schemes are encouraging. Ultimately, we intend to roll out these schemes to every county,” remarked the president.
He also announced that the government had also purchased more land under irrigation and revitalized older schemes to ensure that farmers in the country have access to regular water supply and hence increase food crops and livestock production. The president also announced that his government was taking measures such as lowering the cost of farm inputs to ensure food security. The government has distributed over 912,920 tons of subsidized fertilizers to 1.5 million farmers and reduced the average cost of fertilizers by half since 2013. Additionally the government also commissioned two fertilizer plants in Eldoret and Nakuru both with a combined production of 500,000 tones.