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Monsanto unveils new weather insurance

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Monsanto Malawi has introduced an insurance policy on its seeds, dubbed Chilala, to help farmers mitigate adverse weather conditions. The company took advantage of the just-ended 14th National Agriculture Fair to unveil the product. Monsanto Sales Representative, Dennis Kachikho, said the company realises that times are hard and that sometimes crop failure could result from a number of factors beyond the control of the farmers such as erratic rains.

He said, in partnership with a US-based company, Monsanto will ensure that farmers, in Malawi are protected in the event that seeds fail to germinate or are affected in any way within three weeks of planting. “As a result of climate change, countries like Malawi are experiencing food shortages, making most farmers unproductive and relying on relief items from the government. We have seen how the government has spent a lot of foreign exchange to purchase food items to feed some of our farmers who could have fed themselves in normal conditions.

“We want to take up the responsibility from the government by supporting the farmers both commercial and those under the Farm Input Subsidy programme, when they face external shocks, such as drought or floods by replacing them with seeds, this is what this product is all about,” Kachikho said.

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He said customers will be required to send the secret number on any pack of seeds via SMS, adding that the company will be able to get details such as name and place as well as planting date. “From these details, we will be monitoring via satellite the weather patterns in various localities and see if areas are receiving normal rains.

“Where we see that the area has not received rains for up to 21 days after planting, the customers will be advised to go and get another pack of seeds free of charge,” Kachikho said. Ministry of Agriculture Controller of Agricultural Extension and Technical Services, Albert Changaya, said the Chilala Insurance is important as it will help the country on food security.

Changaya said the insurance means a lot to most farmers, especially smallholder farmers who lose out when they face drought or floods as they cannot afford to buy new seeds to replant in their fields.

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“Most farmers, when they are faced with such shocks, they end up re-planting using recycled seeds, which are low-yielding but through this insurance, cover will mean a lot in terms of food security. “The replaced seed will give the farmer confidence and this will enhance productivity and increase production even after the country faces adverse weather conditions,” he said. Monsanto did a pilot project last year which benefited over 12,000 farmers.

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