The Tanzanian government has been called upon to intervene in curbing losses incurred by the smallholder farmers due to natural disaster surrounding the Agriculture sector in the country.
While various governments across Africa are supporting crop insurance to cushion farmers in times of distress, the situation has been different in Tanzania.
A consultant at the University of Dar-es Salaam’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology added that government needs to quickly render assistance as the current state of affairs is worrying agriculture stakeholders and experts, who have stepped up their efforts to ensure that cover is rolled out in the near future.
Prof Justine Mtaresi, a lecturer and agricultural consultant at the University of Dar-es Salaam (UDSM)’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Fisheries Technology, says quick intervention by the government is needed to cushion smallholder farmers against adverse weather effects.
“Most smallholder farmers will find it difficult to bounce back after the shocks,” he said in a telephone interview with BusinessWeek.
Government said recently plans were on the cards for the introduction of an agriculture insurance plan to cushion farmers against various perils such as adverse weather conditions.
It is also a way to encourage more people to venture into the sector, said the director of policy and planning in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Obey Assery.
He was speaking during the fourth Mwananchi Thought Leadership Forum (MTLF), which ran under the theme ‘Our Agriculture, Our Lifestyle’. The forum was held on May 23, this year.
“We have come to the understanding that this is one of the most important solutions to helping farmers, and it’s among the reforms that we are working on in the ministry to be implemented soon,” he said.
“Plans between the ministry and Tanzania Insurance Regulatory Authority (Tira) and other partners from various sectors are underway to establish products that can protect the farmer from the risk of climate change as well as other uncertainties,” he added.
Prof Mtaresi says that despite the huge contribution of agriculture to the country’s economy, insurance stakeholders continued to disregard the sector.
“As a result, both agriculture and the insurance sector remain largely underdeveloped. It should be known that agriculture insurance is a form of risk management used to hedge against dangers and will help smallholder farmers access loans from lending companies,” he said.
Tanzania is lagging behind neighbours Kenya and Zambia in providing comprehensive cover to farmers.
In Zambia, for example, the government enrolled over a million smallholder farmers under its input support scheme, Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP), on weather index insurance.
Kenya, on the other hand, introduced an insurance Bill to protect farmers from drought losses.
Players in Tanzania’s insurance sector and the government might also what to have a closer look into the Indian studies.
Government has been urged to pay more attention to resource mobilisation and adequate budget allocation, crop insurance, despite chipping in to boost yields through inputs provision and subsidies.