Scheme To Cushion Burden On Farmers

Natural disasters are some of the biggest threats sugarcane farmers face every day. 
19 Mar 2023 19:00
Scheme To Cushion Burden On Farmers
Farmers are expected to benefit tremendously from the insurance scheme.

Natural disasters are some of the biggest threats sugarcane farmers face every day.

And every time there is a disaster, farmers have to take on a loan or use up their savings to pay for the damage.

These are some of the experiences shared by farmers in the western division, particularly in Nadi, Lautoka and Ba.

However, an opportunity is on the horizon for five farmers who are currently members of an insurance scheme by the Pacific Insurance and Climate Adaptation Programme (PICAP).

The parametric micro insurance scheme insures against excessive rainfall and is offered by three private firms – Fiji Care Insurance, Sun Insurance and Tower Insurance.

It is jointly administered by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security and the United Nations Development Programme.

It is a multi-year regional programme presently covering Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu with plans for phased expansion into other Pacific countries, including Samoa, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Kiribati and Timor-Leste.

The Programme aims to provide Pacific communities with climate and disaster risk financing solutions that help them address the growing impacts of climate change.

The Programme receives funding support from the Governments of New Zealand, Australia, India and Luxembourg.

Five of them, among other sugarcane farmers, had received their first pay-out last month and were happy to share about their excitement.

They were part of the $100,000 payout made to 535 members.


Widow Pleased With  Insurance Plan

Lautoka farmer, Premila Devi.

Premila Devi is a widow who operates a 14-acre sugarcane farm in Lautoka.

What started on a 20-acre land has shirked in size because of wet land and other issues.

Her farm is in Naiviyago, Lautoka.

She has been looking after the farm alone for the past 10 years after her husband died. They have two children.

“It was very hard for me to look after the farm when my husband passed away,” she shared.

When she took over, she had to pay off their $40,000 loan to the Sugar Cane Growers Fund.

But flooding incidents have had an impact on her farm giving her more burden to carry in paying off her debt.

“It is very hard for us. It costs like $300 to just fix a 10-minute problem,” she said.

“We always struggle a lot during the cyclone season.

“I had to struggle to get a house and also build a house for the labourers where they can rest.”

All these meant tapping into her savings however the insurance scheme had saved her big time during this cyclone season.

“I’m happy about my parametric insurance,” she said.

“This is the first time we have received such kind of insurance.

She applied for the $1000 cover which has a premium of $100 annually. Ms Devi used the money to dig drains that could remove water from her farm.

“It is very convenient, and I just received the money on M-paisa. There was no need for me to go to the bank,” she said.


Single Mother Insures Sugarcane Farm

Sugarcane farmer in Ba  Jojiana Kula.

A single mother in Ba who is very new to owning a sugarcane farm has opted to be safe than sorry in an event of a disaster.

Jojiana Kula signed up for the scheme when she acquired a nine-acre land from her aunt.

“I’m a newbie to sugarcane farming,” she said.

And the flooding incident in January this year had destroyed almost half of her sugarcane.

“I look after the farm myself especially in the weekend when I get a break from my full-time work.”

She has been working for the Ba Town Council for the past 11 years.

“I’m a single mother of one son and sugarcane farming was something that I was always interested in. It runs in our family,” she said.

She opted for the $1000 cover. She received $250 last month to help her deal with the damages to her farm.

She received it on the MyCash app since she was a Digicel user.

“I do not have to go to the bank,” she said.

“I used it to pay my labourers in the farm. I would recommend every farmer to get on it. It is also very beneficial for those that do not work.

“They do not have to look for money when there is destruction to their farm.

“I took it as a positive thing when I first heard about this product.

“It is important to have a number of income sources you can’t leave on a single income alone.”


Generational Farmer Makes Breakthrough With Parametric Microinsurance

Lautoka farmer, Sheik Rahim.

A generational farmer says the has been exhausting all his options with farming.

Sheik Rahim has two farms in Naviyago, Lautoka which generates more than 500 tonnes of sugarcane every year.

He said that his two farms were always flooded every time there was a heavy downpour.

“In the past I have taken out $3000 to fix the damages to my farm,” he said.

“It took two years to pay off however there were other damages that needed more money.

Mr Rahim believes that climate change is rapidly growing, affecting all aspects of his business.

He has been farming for the past 45 years. He learned about the parametric insurance scheme last year and signed up for it immediately.

“I live in a reclaim area and every time it rains, it gets flooded,” he said.

He said farming was his only source of income.

“I take out my savings to fix the damages,” he said.

“If I do not have the money, I have to take out a loan for it.

He said this was something that he was fond of doing.

“Because of climate change, there is more water that gets clogged in our land, destroying the sugarcanes.

“Hide tide also affects our farm.

Mr Rahim said that he used the money to get water out of his farm.

He found the M-paisa platform very convenient.


Chand Makes Use Of  Parametric Insurance

Lautoka farmer, Sushil Chand.

The parametric microinsurance scheme has been welcomed by Sushil Chand.

He too is a generational farmer in Lautoka.

Everything they ever wished for as a family was only achieved through their hard work in the sugarcane farm.

The burning west moulded Mr Chand at a very young age to be a business owner.

Additionally, he does subsistence farming for his survival at home.

“I really like this insurance plan,” he said.

“It was convenient for me because it came on the phone. There was no need for me to go to the bank.

“I also used the money to save my sugarcanes.”


Retired Teacher Toils The Land  For Survival, Thankful For Insurance

Lautoka farmer, Salaseini Koroi.

For the past 11 years, Salaseini Koroi has been toiling the land in Buabua, Lautoka, as part of her retirement plan.

“I’m a retired schoolteacher. I was a teacher for 32 years,” she said.

“I decided to come back to the farm and do this work.

But she often stumbled upon heavy water trapped in her sugarcane farm.

“It was not long after I started farming, my farm started to suffer from bad weather,” she said.

Ms Koroi said she would spend some time on the farm with her husband to clean up the mess a disaster had left behind.

The sight of sugarcane plants stuck underwater was a common one.

They had grown weary from this and age was limiting them from handling their production.

However, the parametric insurance brought much relief to their lives.

“We need money to have money and that is why I signed up for it.

“I came to know about parametric insurance last year.

“It is different from others because this was for the farm.

Ms Koroi loves to give back to the community, and she has made it her mission to help widowed women start their sugarcane farm.


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