RWANDA – The government of Rwanda has launched the National Agriculture Insurance scheme in an effort to cushion farmers against losses from disasters.

The government is set to invest RWF25 billion (US$23.46 million) into the scheme over the next five years according to the communication officer of the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI), Eugene Kwibuka.

“This insurance is intended to strengthen professional farmers involved in agri-livestock. This initiative will help increase milk powder production for the new Nyagatare Dairy Industry, operational from March 2023.

Breeders will also be able to apply for credit from banks to buy more milk-producing cows. This insurance will also attract fish farmers, and pig and chicken farmers,” said Eugene Kwibuka.

The government contributes 40% to the insurance program and along with helping farmers, it also aims to improve credit flow into the agricultural sector.

RWF1.6 billion (US$1.5 million) has already been invested by the government but only 97,674 cows, 420,179 chickens, 8,614 pigs, and 81,073 hectares of crops have been insured.

De-risking the fishing subsector

Recently, much to fish farmers’ relief, the government decided to add fish farming to the agriculture insurance scheme making it possible for them to access finance from banks.

“Contracts are being prepared and by the end of February, fish farmers will start to benefit from the insurance scheme,” Mathilde Mukasekuru, acting Director General in charge of livestock at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources told The New Times.

This move will help de-risk the fishing subsector according to fish farmers and investors one of whom commented to The New Times,

 “I was producing 720 tonnes of Tilapia fish per year or 60 tonnes per month and the production could double as the government moves to de-risk the industry,” said the fish farmer and investor, Themistocles Munyangeyo.

“The Insurance scheme, which we have been pushing, is a timely solution that was needed by fish farmers.”

His firm, Fine Fine ltd, lost over 109 tonnes of fish last year which was worth RWF200 million (US 187,759)

He informed Th New Times that due to a lack of insurance for the fish industry, financial institutions were reluctant to provide loans to fish farmers.

The government, therefore, targets to double the agriculture sector lending from 5.2%  of the total share of loans from financial institutions to 10.4 % by 2024.

“We are hopeful that banks will now give money to fish farmers in order to increase fish production,” Munyangeyo added.

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