Climate change has increased the risks farmers face from unpredictable weather patterns, but not many take out farm insurance.
Experts say that around 40% of arable farmers take out insurance. Some find it too expensive, while others use alternative risk mitigation measures.
Agricultural insurance can protect farmers against damage caused by hail, frost, drought, floods, locusts or other pests.
Farmers are victims of unpredictable weather events such as extreme floods, droughts and changing temperatures, as well as pests and diseases associated with climate change.
According to Agriculture SA, the extreme weather events over the years have devastated many farmers and many have not been able to recover.
Andrea Campher, risk and disaster manager at Agri SA, says the sector is the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change as good climate conditions are crucial for food production.
“Our grass plains producers are experiencing these climate variability firsthand, water is critical to production, either for irrigation or rainfed agriculture, and we have seen parts of the country, as I mentioned, are drier, like the Karoo , we also know that there is a zero day in the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro is also a reality.”
He adds: “The North Cape is very prone to catastrophic droughts and then there are floods that can happen in the eastern parts of the country like KwaZulu Natal and the sugar cane farmers, vegetable farmers and all these producers in those districts are badly affected.”
Due to the difficult economic conditions characterized by the high cost of living, farmers are faced with high fuel prices and rising fertilizer prices as a result of the war in Eastern Europe. For cost reasons, many farmers do without insurance.
Farm insurance, designed to protect farmers against unforeseen damage to crops or various assets, is either misunderstood or seen as too expensive, while others choose other avenues to mitigate risk.
Santam Farm Manager Daniel Stevens says only 40% of farmers take out insurance.
“From a crop point of view, we see that only about 40% of farmers take out insurance, bearing in mind that insurance is a risk-reducing tool, some farmers build hail nets, for example, and others diversify in that they have farms in different areas depending on the weather conditions in the different areas offer them a certain protection”,
Stevens says they also target your smallholders because of a lack of knowledge about insurance with smallholders.
“But in general the type of crops we also insure is also corn as well as wheat which are your two predominant ones as well as soybeans and sunflowers but in general about 40% of farmers take out crop insurance.”
Risk assessments are difficult Johan Van den Berg, an agricultural meteorologist, says his experience with crop insurance has taught him that predicting what climate change will do is very difficult. He says risk assessments have become more reactive.
“In terms of crop insurance, it’s more of a reactive type of situation, it’s very difficult to predict what climate change will do. You can add an assessment for the increase in variability, the uncertainty about things, but more often the assessment is the result of what has happened in recent years, so if there are more frequent or more events, a higher damage in terms of crops , the claims, then it is part of the evaluation process.”
Van den Berg says above-average rainfall is expected for this summer season. He says they are currently in their third consecutive La Nina year, but La Nina is expected to weaken in the second half of the summer season, which will result in below-average rainfall beginning in February and March next year before El Nino hits , leading to drier conditions from next winter.
More funds for Africa to tackle climate change: