Thu | Aug 5, 2021

Ministry, GK collab on insurance for farmers, fishers

Published:Wednesday | July 21, 2021 | 12:12 AMKarena Bennett/Business Reporter
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green (right) peruses an application form with Jordon Tait, assistant general manager of GK Insurance, at the launch of GK Weather Protect, a crop insurance policy developed specifically for farmers and fishers.
Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green (right) peruses an application form with Jordon Tait, assistant general manager of GK Insurance, at the launch of GK Weather Protect, a crop insurance policy developed specifically for farmers and fishers. The launch was held at the ministry’s Hope Gardens offices on Tuesday.

GK Insurance has come to market with a crop and livelihood insurance product from which it hopes to get new business from 2,000 registered farmers and fisherfolk this year.

GK Weather Protect, which was launched on Tuesday, is an upgrade on insurance protection for farmers and fisherfolk against flood and hurricane damage that GK Insurance launched back in 2013 in a partnership forged with Germany’s Munich Climate Insurance Initiative.

The new product, which adds dry-season insurance protection to the mix, is backed by Puerto Rican partner Raincoat, which will act as administrator, and Germany-based reinsurer Munich RE.

It marks the third insurance product in the market targeted at the 220,000 registered farmers and 26,000 registered fisherfolk through direct efforts by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. Prior to its launch, the ministry and Guardian Life partnered on a multi-advantage insurance plan, which enabled farmers and fishers to access benefits such as doctor’s visits, prescription drugs, hospitalisation, personal accident, critical illness, and a range of medical attention.

Sagicor has partnered with the ministry on the AgriCare Programme, another group life and health insurance plan for farmers and fisherfolk.

“Weather Protect has ticked all the boxes. We have spent significant time working on insurance for our farmers and fishers, but there was one piece of the puzzle missing. Our farmers and fishers now have access to health, life, fishing vessel insurance and today, crop and livestock insurance,” Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Floyd Green said.

“The next thing on the agenda is improving financing to the sector,” he said.

GK Weather Protect provides insurance coverage of up to $1 million per season for drought, rain, and wind conditions individually. Registered farmers and fisherfolk have the option to select all or any of the three perils at different levels of coverage, the lowest being $100,000, with a premium of $5,700 per season.

Coverage runs for two seasons: (dry) April 1 to June 30, and (wet) August 1 to November 30. Registration is being facilitated online, at Bill Express locations islandwide or at the Rural Agricultural Development Authority offices.

“Payouts will be made to the individuals bank account within seven days once a predefined trigger is met. The seven-day time frame allows us to verify the event and do the necessary administrative work,” assistant general manager of GK Insurance, Jordan Tait, said.

WIDESPREAD ROLL-OUT FOR 2022

GK Insurance will leverage GK Foods relations with farmers to get its first batch of clients this year. Thereafter, the company will move on the wider network of registered farmers and fisherfolk.

“We are targeting anywhere between 1,000 to 2,000 farmers for this season, and these are farmers that would have already reached out to us in groups or individual some of which are part of the GK Foods network. For next year, we plan to do a much more widespread roll-out and our aim at that time is to get about 20 to 25 per cent or about 5,000 to 10,000 of the registered farmer base,” Tait told The Gleaner.

Between 2004 and 2017, Jamaica’s agricultural sector suffered $196 billion in losses from weather-related events. More recently, the country suffered more than $2.5 billion in damage to crops caused by flooding over the months of October to November 2020. More than 14,000 farmers were affected triggering a recovery payout of $600 million by the Government.

The realities of climate change make the country even more vulnerable.

“If you speak to farmers, they will tell you that weather patterns have changed. We are seeing longer dry spells, shorter rainy seasons, but more intense rains that lead to significant flood damage,” Green said.

Outside of its work with the private sector on initiatives to protect workers of the agriculture and fisheries sector, the ministry, in January, formed its first-ever disaster risk management and mitigation committee that has been working with the Meteorological Service and its agencies on risk assessment measures for farmers and fishers.

karena.bennett@gleanerjm.com