The Crop Weather Index Insurance by the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi (NASFAM)

The Crop Weather Index Insurance (WII) in Malawi is a partnership that includes the National Smallholder Farmers Association of Malawi (NASFAM), Malawi Rural Finance Company (MRFC) and the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Service.

With changes in rainfall patterns attributed to Climate Change, farmers have started to see the need for weather index insurance.

Climate Change is having a negative impact on yields in Malawi and poor yields make loan repayment a big challenge for smallholder farmers. The WII offers a relief to most farmers in addition to safeguarding against bad weather, farmers who could have enough harvest could also receive some payouts on their loan.

Micro Finance Institutions such as the Opportunity International Bank of Malawi (OIBM) and the Malawi Rural Finance Company (MRFC) started financing crops which were previously not supported yet susceptible to drought and marketing problems.

Objectives:

Apart from the direct importance of the insurance some weather stations got weather measuring instruments. For example, Mchinji district benefited an automated weather station financed by the World Bank. This reduced costs of collecting data by the Meteorological Service department.

Since the project was being implemented in collaboration with other stakeholders such as loan providers and agricultural extension workers, Insurance companies reduced on cost of monitoring the fields, which is not the case with the traditional insurance norms where insurers visit each field.

The WII helped to increase production especially for maize and groundnuts through access to adequate improved seed. The varieties that were promoted for both maize and groundnuts were short season (duration), suitable for adapting short rainy seasons. For areas where weather was still a problem, farmers were compensated at the end of the season. 

Results:

  • In the two years of implementation of the project many key players in the agricultural sectors have developed interest in the WII, including the government of Malawi.
  • Since farmers were in groups, organising them was easier. This saw the programme, which started with groundnuts, later on expanding to maize and tobacco after looking at its benefits.
  • The pilot WII has seen the introduction of insurance to non-traditional crops in the country. 

References:

www.siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTARD/Resources/

www.un.org/esa/sustdev/sdissues/finance/egm2007/presentations