This article originally appeared in The Business Daily Newspaper

Boosting Food Security

The government is banking on crops insurance to achieve food security in the country, a senior s officer in the Agriculture ministry has said.

John Mwaniki, policy director in charge of crop insurance, said after successful implementation with livestock keepers, the ministry had introduced a program in which farmers were paid for crop failure and poor harvests in a move that was expected to boost their morale.

“In the past when crops failed from Imenti North and Tigania West in Meru County were paid Sh4.5 million after their maize crops failed during the April season, 2017.

Farmers were paid according to the number of acres under maize they had insured. One farmer from Tigania West is going home with Sh153,000 having insured 10 acres. The money was expected to be sent to the farmers via mobile phone transfer starting yesterday (Monday March 12).

A farmer pays 50 per cent of premiums in the government subsidized programme that brings together a consortium of six insurance companies – APA Insurance, CIC, Kenya Orient, Amaco, UAP and Heritage.

Julius Muriungi, a farmer, expected to be paid Sh8,731 after his maize on one acre failed to yield 15 bags as projected. “I paid Sh520 for insurance and I am glad that I did not go at a loss. This is very encouraging and this time I am going to insure three acres,” he said.

The Soil Testing Connection

Some crop insurance policies are including soil testing as a key requirement. Farmers who’ve tested their soils are more certain of their target yield than those who haven’t. Also implementing the soil correction procedures in the soil test result increases the chance of a successful harvest. This mitigates likely losses or failed harvest incurred either by pests, diseases or nutrient deficiency.

Today, farming doesn’t have to be a risky business because this risk is now being taken care of insurance just like any other sector. At the moment the program targets maize farmers but in future other crops will be included

Consequently, farmers who test their soils with reputable soil testing companies pay less premiums to insurance. The greater certainty of a successful harvest offered by soil testing services cushions farmers from likely losses due to pests, diseases and nutrient deficiency.

Besides, soil testing companies like CropNuts have dedicated Agronomist who do regular visits and checks on farmers’ crops and address emerging issues like the Fall Army Worm menace among maize farmers early in advance to avoid any further crop loss. This is alongside, advising farmers on the correct time of fertilizer application and other crucial Agronomic practices that boost final yield