HCM CITY — The agricultural insurance programme that has been piloted since last July has yet to become popular.
|Farmers in the northern province of Bac Giang harvest rice from fields that were submerged in recent heavy storms. Few farmers in the country have taken part in a three-year pilot programme for crop insurance. — VNAVNS Photo Dinh Hue
The three-year programme, which seeks to help farmers overcome losses caused by natural disasters and epidemics, covers three main categories – rice, livestock (buffalo, cows, pigs and poultry), and aquaculture (tra and basa fish, black tiger shrimp, and white leg shrimp) – and is being implemented in 21 cities and provinces.
Under it, the Government fully subsidises insurance premium payments for poor farmers, 80 per cent for those living near the poverty line, and 60 per cent for those with an average income.
Production units buying agricultural insurance get 20 per cent support.
But despite the across-the-board subsidy, mainly poor farmers getting 80 and 100 per cent subsidy have signed up, many localities have reported.
For instance, in Vinh Phuc Province, 909 out of 991 households opting for the insurance were poor or near poor, said Bui Nhu Y, deputy director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Pham Huu Lang, head of a hamlet in Thai Binh Province's Vu Thu District, said the commune steering committee sent officials to each resident's house to explain the importance of agricultural insurance and encourage farmers to buy it, but farmers had remained indifferent due to high fees and some unreasonable regulations.
Nguyen Phi Hung, head of the Nguyen Xa Co-operative in Thai Binh, said the insurance covered some diseases that farmers could themselves fight but not others that were deadlier.
Many local authorities, admitting to this, said some livestock-related provisions should be adjusted and other diseases affecting rice and livestock should be covered to attract more interest.
Besides, the programme should allow provinces to decide what assets would be covered by the insurance, they said. For instance, dairy cow breeding is an important activity in Vinh Phuc and farmers there want to insure their herds, but the programme does not cover it in the province.
Ministries agree to changes
The ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and Finance have taken on board the criticism and agreed to amend provisions, regulations, and premiums.
Accordingly, MARD plans to add storms and prolonged droughts to the list of natural calamities covered by the programme.
It will also add more diseases affecting rice, cows, buffaloes, pigs, and poultry – including rice blast disease, pasteurellosis, cholera, typhoid, and gumboro – to the list.
The ministry wants insurance companies to popularise the pilot programme and subsidise vaccination and treatment costs.
Nguyen Quang Phi, deputy general director of the State-owned Bao Viet Insurance, said the central steering committee on agricultural insurance had reduced the premiums for pigs.
It was studying cuts in premiums for other animals too, he added. — VNS