Govt spearheading efforts to provide crop insurance to Guyanese farmers
…regional company already engaged by Ministerial Task Force
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha, who also chairs the Caribbean Community (Caricom) special Ministerial Task Force on food production and security, said plans are in motion for farmers to get crop insurance by the second quarter of this year.
Mustapha made this revelation during a recent appearance before the Parliamentary Economic Services Committee. According to Mustapha, agricultural insurance is a priority for the task force and important for de-risking the agriculture sector, vulnerable to natural disasters caused by climate change. So important is it that the company in question, Grace Kennedy Insurance, has already been engaged.
“This has been placed as a priority and a regional company has been engaged at a regional level to explore the provision of the agricultural insurance to our farmers in Guyana. The process has commenced, actions are ongoing and the Ministerial Task Force has set itself a deadline of the second quarter of 2022 for implementation of key elements of this programme.”
“This is a very important part of the agriculture sector not only for our country but the Caribbean as a whole. We have seen this process started in Jamaica, where a number of farmers were insured by this company. As a matter of fact, we’ve had discussions already with this company and as I said, plans are moving apace to get this company involved,” the Minister said.
In 2021, it had been announced that discussions between Jamaican insurance companies and the State-owned Development Bank of Jamaica, led to the provision of insurance coverage to their farmers. The discussions led to the Jamaican Government partnering with Grace Kennedy Insurance to insure thousands of farmers and fisherfolk.
Mustapha pointed out to the committee that most times when a natural disaster such as flooding occurs, farmers sustain devastating losses and are dependent on the Government providing financial support to get back on their feet. This was evident last year, when Guyana suffered massive floods during the unprecedented May-June rainy season.
“I’m very passionate about this. Many times, our farmers who would have suffered losses through climate change and flooding, they have to depend solely on the Government to get back on their feet. I think if we can have this policy, where you will have insurance companies insure farmers, this will ensure their crops can be protected,” Minister Mustapha said.
“And as Chairman of the Ministerial Task Force, I want to assure you that we will work diligently to get this in effect. We’ve seen the effects of climate change, with the last floods. And we have seen the destruction it has caused to the agriculture sector. As a Government, we will continue to help our farmers and provide the necessary services, but this is also important.”
Between May and June of 2021, heavy rains resulted in widespread flooding across Guyana, affecting thousands of households. The devastation included submerged buildings and vehicles, with adverse effects on crops, livestock and health.
It has been noted that the rainfall experienced in May 2021 alone was recorded as the second highest level of rainfall across the country in the last 40 years. All 10 administrative regions in Guyana experienced varied levels of flooding, prompting Government to roll out immediate responses such as evacuation of those most at risk and flood assistance, including for small and medium scale farmers.
President Dr Irfaan Ali, in announcing assistance last year for those hit by floods declared a national disaster, had said that some 52,000 households were affected by the torrential rains and flooding that beset Guyana.
The combined assistance to households including homesteads and those with kitchen gardens, announced by the Government, had been in excess of $3.5 billion… with a $10 million cap for individual farmers.
The Head of State had announced that farmers within the context of a homestead would receive $100,000 each, those with kitchen gardens would receive $50,000 each and households excluding homestead and kitchen garden would receive 50,000 each. (G3)