Hajir Uddin (60) is a farmer who lives with his wife, four sons and daughter in Kurigram Sadar upazila Jatrapur union Noanipara area. Before the floods, this year he planted different crops on about 10 bighas of land. The due to the sudden floods, he has lost all crops.
Every year in Kurigram, many farmers like Hajir Uddin lose their crops due to flash floods. The Bangladesh government has started insurance for climate affected farmers. The state-run Sadharan Bima Corporation is implementing this initiative.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina, inaugurating the International MicroInsurance Conference at Sonargaon Hotel in the capital on 5 November 2019, said the government has taken initiative to introduce agricultural insurance for farmers to address the risks of climate change. She said the impact of climate change is going to be felt in Bangladesh. The marginalised people of the country are most affected. According to a recent report, Bangladesh ranks seventh among the countries at natural risk. Those who live in risk-prone areas will be protected if special insurance schemes are arranged for them to cover the losses and make their lives safer.
Syed Shahriar Ahsan, managing director of Sadharan Bima Corporation, said, "The government has introduced agricultural insurance for farmers through us. At present Mithamin Haor in Rajshahi, Sirajganj, Noakhali and Kishoreganj has been launched on an experimental basis."
He said it was not just the job of Sadharan Bima Corporation, but that the coordination of the agriculture department, meteorological department, finance department and the ministry of social welfare was also essential. Farmers do not know or are not aware of the benefits of insurance. It will not be possible for us alone to raise this awareness. The support of other departments of the government is also needed. It will take require government to start this. If the government provides agricultural insurance from the relief given every year, the farmers will benefit."
The insurance will gain popularity among the farmers if the government provides assistance for a few years. Only then will the farmers be interested in this type of insurance. He added that agricultural insurance has been introduced in many countries of the world including India. There the government or the donor organisations pay the insurance premium of the farmer. It will be effective in Bangladesh if it is introduced in this way.
Climate expert Atiq Rahman said, farmers are no longer able to become self-sufficient if they are affected by climate change. They are forced to leave the agricultural profession and move to another profession. In this case, if agricultural insurance is introduced, as well as compensation, they will not be diverted by climate-related disasters. Once the disaster is over, they will turn to agricultural cultivation again. This will play a role in the country's agriculture and economy in the long run.
Oxfam Bangladesh, a non-government development organisation, has provided the first financial assistance to the government to introduce agricultural insurance. Kazi Azam, senior programme officer of the Oxfam, said, "We paid the insurance premiums to the farmers in Mithamain of Kishoreganj with Sadharan Bima Corporation and Sunamganj with Green Delta Insurance last year."
Last year, crops were submerged in the haor (wetlands) of Sunamanj due to Cyclone Amphan. A total of 318 farmers in Tahirpur Haor area of Sunamganj were covered by Green Delta Insurance's index-based crop insurance cover from 26 April to 22 May last year. Later they received compensation. This year the World Food Program (WFP) is providing financial benefits to farmers in Raniganj of Chilmari in Kurigram and Jatrapur Union of Sadar Upazila by bringing them under insurance.
WFP wants to share the project results with the government. After that they are expecting the government to lend give the full support of agri insurance under the social safety net programme and national disaster programme.
Social welfare minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed told Prothom Alo, the government is trying to add agri insurance to the social safety net programme. "I will talk to the prime minister regarding this issue," he said.