A freak gust of wind blew off his greenhouse. It happened once. It happened twice. It happened thrice. Left hopeless in the midst of the ruins, Roland Nushi a farmer from Lushnje knew that he couldn’t fight nature. “You cannot control the wind. It just blows off all your investments and your hopes”, he says to Agroweb.

But what Nushi could certainly control, is the insurance of his greenhouse. He is one of the 757 farmers who yesterday singed an agreement between the Fed Invest, Sigal UNIQA Group Austria and IFIS Broker in Krutja village (Lushnja) that insures for the first time at 100% the products of farmers across the country, against damages to their greenhouses by natural disasters.

“This is like a ray of sunshine for us. We have crossed off a big problem that was threatening us every step of our way”, Roland Nushi says for Agroweb.
In recent years, cases of natural disasters occurring frequently in our country have been associated with severe economic consequences for farmers. Therefore, this pilot project, and its expansion, with a considerable number of farmers and stockbreeders, was seen as a necessity to ensure their investments.

Present at the event, the Minister of Agriculture, Edmond Panariti, said that this insurance scheme taking place for the first time in Albania is a success of the ‘Fed Invest”. The Minister called as “an historic moment” the involvement of insurance companies in supporting the agricultural sector for the first time stressing that this sector has already proved that it is the engine of the economy.

The Ministry has prepared a law stipulating that all those who will substantially invest in agriculture, should insure their activities.
Albania has received support from the EBRD for the agricultural insurance. Also in response to a request for assistance from the Government of Albania, the United States, through USAID, has provided $750,000 in additional technical and financial assistance for those in agricultural areas who were affected by severe flooding in the Fier region in February 2015.

Through the support of USAID in Kafaraj, Lushnje there were build “model” greenhouses which are more resistant to climate events and have features to promote production of strawberries.

In the last 20 years more than 690,000 people have been affected by disasters with an average of around 34,000 affected persons per year. Relatively to the population of 2011, this represents an average of 1.2 % of the total population affected every year (more than 1 person over 100).

But still farmers do not insure their crop, also due to a lack of knowledge and of the insurance market. In a previous interview for Agroweb, one of the representatives of SIGAL Uniqa Group Austria said that this is a problem of know how form the farmers and the conservativeness of the market.

“Agricultural insurance is nearly non-existing in Albania”, said Ogert Shkrepa, Director of Property and Guaranty Department of the Insurance Company SIGAL Uniqa Group Austria for Agroweb. Insurance companies have few clients and in those few cases they focus on livestock (mainly cows) and greenhouse insurance around big cities.

“Such subtypes of agricultural insurance are lower-risk ones comparing to the field crops or fruit tree insurance. Analysis of the insurance contracts provides that insurance companies prefer to cover infrequent catastrophic risks that are lower in cost to clients”, confirmed Shkrepa for Agroweb.

Zana Konini, Executive Director of ‘Invest Fed’ highlighted during the event in Lushnje, said that ALL 3 million are invested in this pilot project; and that this scheme is a very good chance for the Albanian farmers to guarantee their products.

“We have many cases of farmers that we have credited that have lost their produce due to natural disasters, from heavy rains and flooding. With this scheme we have made it possible that 757 farmers to be insured for one year and cost for them is zero”, said Konini.

Though many banks have it on their policies to insure their loans by sharing the risk. But there very few cases in which they have actually asked for it, due to fact that the risk is still very high. But with climate change issues and higher productivity commercial farmers need to be looking up at insurance policies.

Because no one wants to have a rewind of the images from Fier, Shkodër, Lezhë, or Tepelenë of helpless farmers that lost their crop, livestock at the drop of a rain or at a swing of the wind./Agroweb.org/