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Cargill Says Zambian Farmers Facing Drought Need Crop Insurance

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Zambia’s small-scale farmers, who produce more than 90 percent of the country’s staple corn crop, should consider buying weather insurance as the possibility of a second straight year of low rainfall looms, according to Cargill Inc .

“From the reports we’re receiving at the moment, we can possibly expect another dry year of below average rainfall,” said Lezanne van Zyl, general manager at the Zambian unit of the world’s biggest food-production company. “We probably need to seriously start looking, not as Cargill only, but as an industry, at a good insurance product for small-scale farmers.”

Cargill has corn, edible oils and cotton businesses in Zambia, where the corn harvest fell 22 percent this year to about 2.6 million tons. After a bumper crop in 2014, the country still has a surplus available to export to the region this year. Those stores may not

be replenished in time for 2016 in the event of further drought.

While it’s early to predict rainfall patterns, the odds are on lower rainfall for Zambia this year, Mark New, director at the University of Cape Town’s African Climate Development Initiative, said on Aug. 14. Another year of drought threatens the country’s crop production and output at hydropower dams it depends on for more than 90 percent of electricity generation.

The Zambia National Farmers Union has formed a partnership with African Grey Insurance to provide crop cover services to farmers, the local Daily Mail reported in May.

Zambia’s small-scale farmers should also grow crops besides corn to mitigate the risks of climate change, Van Zyl said in an interview in Chipata, about 500 kilometers (310 miles) northeast of Lusaka, the capital.

“Other crops have different growing cycles and are impacted differently by rainfall patterns and pests,” she said. “You’re not only diversifying the country’s risk in terms of food security, but you’re also diversifying the small-scale farmers risk.”

Category: Insurance

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