Gov’t urged to pay attention to agricultural insurance

Dr. Daniel Adu Ankrah, the Executive Director of Mangrove, an Agro-based NGO has urged government to turn attention to agricultural insurance for small holder farmers to manage environmental risks in the sector.

According to him, climate change continues to pose greater risks to farmers who are particularly vulnerable to climate-related risks and if this is not addressed can compromise government’s effort to make the agricultural sector attractive in providing jobs and better food security outcomes.

Dr. Ankrah told the Ghana News Agency that Agricultural insurance was yet to be fully implemented across the entire country adding, ” This problem, if not solve, will compromise government effort to make the agricultural sector an attractive trajectory for jobs and better food security outcomes under the governments flagship policy of “Planting for Food and Jobs” (PFJ).

Agricultural insurance has become an important tool for managing economic and environmental risks in the agricultural sector as climate change posed a long-term risk to agricultural producers, particularly smallholder farmers across the southern belt of the country.

Countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa have been tagged as the most vulnerable as far as the negative impact of climate change is concerned due to their over-reliance on rain-fed agriculture and Ghana is no exception to reliance on rain-fed production and access to information is also a challenge.

The Director of Mangrove, Dr. Ankrah mentioned that in a research undertaken by his organization with support from the BUSAC fund showed that about 90% of farmers in the Southern part of Ghana have either not heard about crop insurance or have no knowledge about how to access it. The research carried out in three regions in the Northern, Volta and Western involving 7 communities in 5 districts showed that majority of smallholder farmers (88%) agreed that they were vulnerable to climate related risks; a greater proportion (77%) had ever experienced crop losses due to climate related risks. In the study it was found out that excessive rainfall leading to flooding was adjudged as the most important factor rendering farmers vulnerable to climate related risks.

Farmers in a bid to adjust put in place various coping strategies and this varies per region or geographical area. The coping strategies include alternative income diversification, borrowing and sale of livestock especially in the northern region. Even though majority (90%) of the respondents agreed that agricultural insurance is good only 14% had ever acquired insurance. The study found out that lack of knowledge about agricultural insurance products constitute the most important reason (64%) for non-subscription among smallholder farmers.

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Again, the launch of Ghana Agricultural Insurance Pool (GAIP) in June 2011 still have little inclusion of farmers in the southern part of Ghana with high concentration in northern Ghana, yet smallholder farmers in southern Ghana continue to face destruction from floods, high temperatures, erratic rainfall and insect infestation.

Therefore, the regularization of insurance across the entire country remains imperative since agriculture forms the major livelihood option for people in Eastern, Volta, Western region, and other parts of Southern Ghana, supplying bulk of food crops to big cities such as Accra, Kumasi, Cape Coast and Takoradi to meet the growing food demand of the population.

Again, farming challenges were exacerbated by poor road network resulting from flooding as a result of climate related hazards.

“Our research has also revealed that the effort of the Innovation Insurance Products for the Adaptation to Climate Change (IIPACC) to enhance the capacity of Ghana Meteorological services department and MoFA, rather contributed to improvement in quality, quantity and systematization of data gathering on crop yields and climate data on a national level rather than helping small-holder farmers with access to specific information.”

Considering the fact that the agricultural sector is dominated by smallholder farmers, who produces more than 80% of Ghana food needs, there is the urgent need to deepen and regularize crop insurance to sustain food supply and farmers’ sustained livelihoods in the country.

Dr. Ankrah said current data on Ghana’s agricultural sector showed a likely potential growth rate as high as 6 percent, but climate change could potentially inhibit such progress in the long run. He said though Ghana was an active member of the African Union, steps to fully join Africa Risk Capacity Insurance scheme had been slow.

He added that the impacts of these effects on the economy were likely to be larger, particularly at a time where the government is promoting agriculture and an adaptation measure such as Agricultural insurance must be given the needed attention in Ghana, particularly across the Southern part.

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He said farmers in the Southern part of the country (Western, Eastern, and Volta) particularly cannot be excluded when it comes to agricultural insurance adding “Farmers livelihoods are already challenged with the impact of climate change.  There is essentially the need to broaden the scope of agricultural insurance in Ghana and not just target few regions.

He mentioned that it was about time government stopped the over concentration of agricultural insurance in the Northern sector to the neglect of the south saying, “In December 2009, the German Development Corporation (GIZ) in collaboration with Ghana Insurers Association instituted Innovation Insurance Products for the Adaptation to Climate Change (IIPACC) to help Ghana tackle the socio-economic cost and risk associated with climate change. The project, which run until 2014, did not benefit most farmers in the Southern part of Ghana.

Again the Ghana Agricultural Insurance Programme (GAIP), which was launched in 2011 to offer a risk transfer mechanism in the form of insurance solutions to protect farmers and other players in Ghana’s agricultural industry from the negative economic effects of climate change.” is skewed in favour of small holders farmers in the northern part of the country.

He said the government must broaden the scope of already existing insurance policies in order to help small holder farmers better plan, prepare and respond to Climate Change-related disasters to position Ghana to achieve better food security outcomes and help attain sustainable agricultural development.

It is surprising to know that most efforts on agricultural insurance in Africa are driven by European and American partners such as GIZ and USAID with little contribution from our own government.

Dr. Ankrah said Climate change possess a major threat to Ghana’s agricultural development and there is the need to broaden the scope and encourage more small holder farmers to subscribe to insurance policies as a good coping strategy to the negative effects of climate related effects on farming and general agricultural practices.

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