Kenyan farmers to get crop failure insurance cover

Farmers across the country will soon benefit from an ambitious plan by the Government and private sector to insure their crops and livestock.

The plan, which was unveiled Wednesday, will cover small-scale farmers against weather-related crop failure and loss of livestock. It is a move geared towards aiding farmers mitigate or adapt to effects of prolonged drought and other weather related phenomena, including El Nino.

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries acting Cabinet Secretary Adan Mohammed said this in Nairobi during the launch of the Tegemeo Agriculture conference.

"The three issues of climatic change, devolution and limited land sizes greatly influence the ability of households to improve incomes and meet their food and nutrition security needs. As a Government we continue to put in place strategies and programmes that will improve livelihoods of Kenyans facing these issues," Mr Mohammed said.

The meeting was attended by the director of USAid mission in Kenya Karen Freeman and Egerton University Vice Chancellor James Tuitoek among others. Mohammed also confirmed that the Government was seeking to increase its spending in agriculture to 10 per cent of its annual budget, focusing mainly on expanding irrigated land and improving rural infrastructure.

He, however, noted that the declining land per capita due to the increasing Kenyan population posed a challenge to the agricultural sector, which was projected to grow by at least 10 per cent annually consequently lifting Kenya to a middle-income country by 2030.

"This trend in land sizes coupled with cases of arable land put under non-agricultural uses will continue to hamper growth in the economy. To achieve the requisite growth, smallholder production needs to transform to cope with changing production and marketing environments," he observed.

On climate change, he noted that irregular rain patterns had led to a rise in temperature, leading to frequent and prolonged droughts. He said the status quo would remain unless something was done.

"Given its reliance on weather, agricultural production will bear the brunt of climatic variability and change. This calls for adoption of strategies to enhance resilience of the farmers and ensure that they engage in agricultural activities that sustain the environment and improve their incomes," Mohammed said.

Other measures that the Government has put in place include provision of relief food and emergency supplies and provision of drought resistance seeds and seedlings.

The Tegemeo conference is in line with the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy and also captures the aspirations of the National Climatic Change Response Strategy and the National Climate Change Action Plan (2013-2017).

Tegemeo Institute Director Mary Mathenge said this conference was expected to serve as a forum to disseminate the institution's research findings and to elicit debate and feedback on alternative agriculture sector policy options on the same.

Dr Mathenge said the institute seeks to address various questions including how the agriculture sector can achieve transformation by offering policy recommendations to key stakeholders in the areas of land use in the face of increasing land constraints.