Friday, February 25, 2011

Innovative micro-insurance program expands to protect Kenyan farmers from drought

EurekAlert: With Kenyan farmers increasingly fearing massive weather-related losses, UAP Insurance, Syngenta Foundation and mobile operator Safaricom announced today a major expansion of Kilimo Salama, an innovative and affordable crop insurance program that will now cover the expected value of farm harvests, more crops and many more farmers against drought and flooding, while also protecting against livestock losses.

The new program, called Kilimo Salama Plus, builds on the original Kilimo Salama—Kiswahili for "safe farming"—which was launched last year. It uses a low-cost mobile phone payment and data system that is linked to solar-powered weather stations to issue an insurance policy and rapidly compensate farmers for investments in seeds, fertilizer, and other inputs that are lost to either insufficient or excessive rains.

Kilimo Salama Plus retains this innovative approach while expanding from the initial focus to go beyond just inputs to give farmers the opportunity to insure the value of their harvest. In addition, due to high demand, farmers can now insure a wider array of crops including maize, wheat, beans, and sorghum.

…UAP Insurance Managing Director James Wambugu said that Kilimo Salama Plus had expanded the range of crops under cover due to rising popularity of its affordable and easily-dispensable nature. "It also follows our drive to simplify insurance and in the process expand access to more crop and livestock farmers," he explained.

…Expounding on the successes of the initial program, Marco Ferroni, Executive Director of the Syngenta Foundation, said, "We have seen 12,000 farmers in Kenya take advantage of the original Kilimo Salama and we should be able to reach 50,000 farmers with Kilimo Salama Plus this year and provide far more insurance options."

"We have quickly seen this initiative grow from a small pilot program in 2009 to become the largest agricultural insurance program in Africa and the first to use mobile phone technology to speed access and payouts to rural farmers," he added….

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