By Richard Kaseke – In another exciting new project by leading mobile network Econet Wireless, farmers in Zimbabwe can now access a weather-indexed drought insurance service as part of an umbrella agricultural programme called ‘EcoFarmer’. The service acts as a buffer through which farmers will receive compensation for failed yield owing to unfriendly rainfall levels.
The service is similar to a service launched by Safaricom, Kenya’s mobile giant – the same company which founded M-Pesa, a mobile banking solution after which EcoCash was modeled.
The insurance process is pretty straightforward – a farmer who joins the scheme receives a weather monitoring device which they activate and is linked to their profile with Econet Wireless. The device measure various elements such as rainfall levels, humidity and temperature. Meanwhile, the farmer pays rates as low as 8 cents per day for the cover. This amount paid through prepaid phone credit.
In the event that the farmer’s crop fails, they stand to receive compensation of as much as $100 for every 10 kg seed pack planted in the season.
Econet has also partnered with Seed Co to produce special seed packs that contain a small plastic container with a special number that the farmer must SMS to the network. As soon as Econet receives the number, they know exactly where the farmer is located.
According to Econet Wireless, “When a farmer can plant crops knowing that crop failure does not mean hunger for the family, they will be encouraged to plant more crops and therefore increase national production.”
Trials of the new service will be conducted in Mashonaland East province starting this November. Following success in that test sample, Econet will thereafter open it to the rest of the country.