Agriculture underwriters have declined to cover farmers in the eastern province, on grounds that their marshland remains untreated.
Over 1,500 farmers from Gashora, Juru, Rilima, Mayange of Bugesera District, and Rukumberi sector of Ngoma district in eastern province have been left stranded following retreating of the underwriter of their crops, citing high risks of losses due to the flooding.
Last season, the farmers were insured by Radiant insurance company, during which they paid Rwf3 million in premiums, with the government footing Rwf1.2 million of it, as a subsidy for the cost of insurance.
As the rain started, over 100 hectares wiped out by the flooding and the farmers were compensated with Rwf29.6 million. “We had a meeting with the insurers, in the last season as we were up for the last season and they told us that they cannot keep working us with due to the high risks of flooding in the wetland as it lay unirrigated,” said Samuel Iradukunda a farmer in the wetland.
“We have entered this season while no other insurer was up for covering our recently cultivated rice,” he added. Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources has launched the National Agriculture Insurance Scheme (NAIS) in 2019 to mitigate risks and losses incurred by farmers due to unpredictable natural disasters, pests and diseases that affect their livestock and crops.
According to the official figures from the Ministry of Agriculture, over 152,200 farmers of rice, maize, chilli and green beans have already signed up for the insurance scheme, where 26,012 hectares are insured.
Simon Havugimana, head of the KODUMUGA, the rice cooperative from the wetland, told Rwanda Today that since the wetland is not well rehabilitated, they are on the verge of losses, which drove away insurers.
“The wetland hasn’t been yet rehabilitated, yet the insurer has told us that once wetland is well rehabilitated, we will be happy to come back,” Havugimana said. Havugimana told Rwanda Today that the farmers have started negotiations with SONARWA, but nothing like inking the partnership has yet happened.
Through its project dubbed Bugesera natural region rural Infrastructure project, the government has since between 2013 and 2015, been pumping over Rwf7 billions into the rehabilitation and treatment of Gashora Marshland, which stretching on 750 hectares, and the farming activities in the marshland were officially launched in 2017.
However, the heavy flooding that engulfed most of the country’s parts in the 2020 seasons, they burst the banks of the canals and rivers.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture told Rwanda Today that the contentious issue for the wetland has destroyed the drainages and canals.
Emile Ruzibiza, the head of the department of Land Husbandry and Irrigation Research and Technology Transfer at Rwanda in the Ministry of Agriculture told Rwanda Today that the wetland rehabilitation programme slated later in August.
“We have proposed the holistically rehabilitation program of the Gashora wetland, and it’s planned to be launched later this year- somewhere in August,” Ruzibiza told Rwanda Today. Out of over 750 hectares that the wetland encompass not even 200 hectares are currently in use.