Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) parliamentarian Geoffrey Mwilima last week tabled a motion in the National Assembly to debate the introduction of an insurance cover policy for farmers. The policy is proposed to fully compensate farmers in terms of damages caused by wildlife.
“There must be an introduction of an insurance cover policy scheme in place for human-wildlife conflict. This insurance cover policy is an innovative compensation approach, where farmers pay a premium for cover against a defined risk such as livestock deprivation and damage to farm property,” said Mwilima.
He noted the premium can be set at true market rates or be subject to a subsidy provided by conservation organisations such as conservancies. This method also requires an accurate assessment of the cause of crop damage, livestock depredation and human injury or death.
According to Mwilima, the current self-reliance scheme has not been effective for many farmers due to numerous factors: “The current compensation schedule of payment needs to be readjusted for equivalent purposes. For instance, it is not possible for the scheme to offset only a mere N$1 000 for crop damages per hectare of maize, whereas a farmer can harvest and get capital output ranging between N$20 000 to N$30 000 from the very same hectare.”
Moreover, Mwilima noted the very same imbalance is observed in livestock losses: “There is a total absence of equivalents as well, whereas N$3 000 is compensated for the loss of livestock. This figure cannot even buy a calf in our communal farms. It is also observed that this unfair compensation has created tensions in our communities.”
The parliamentarian added farmers tend to see no importance in wildlife and conservation in general. He emphasised this situation has created a phobia within the farming community, and farmers are now poaching wild animals in efforts to recover losses caused by human-wildlife conflict.
Furthermore, Mwilima said tried and tested approaches to conflict resolutions include schemes to financially offset affected individual farmers for their losses. To succeed, these schemes need to ensure cost effective verification, fair and timely payments, incentives for damage prevention and financial sustainability.
He was also concerned about the amount given to conservancies through the Game Product Trust Fund to cover losses caused by wildlife. “The amount is not sufficient in this regard. It needs to be readjusted to a reasonable amount in order to avoid long overdue payments due to farmers,” explained Mwilima. Last year, a Kunene farmer who was left to assess damage caused by a pride of lions that killed 76 of his small stock, comprising 66 goats and 10 sheep, was compensated N$40 000 as per government policy.