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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 11:50 GMT
SA farmers 'to get El Nino protection'
Poor maize crop
Much of southern Africa is suffering severe crop failures
South African farmers are set to benefit from a government-backed insurance scheme, launched to shield the country from the food crisis ravaging the region.

According to Agriculture Minister Thokozile Didiza, the government is worried that the El Nino weather effect could exacerbate Southern Africa's recent crop failures.

Over the past decade El Nino - the name for a pattern of weather generated by warming in the Pacific - has wrought havoc, triggering horrific floods in some regions and drought in others.

More than 14 million people in six southern African countries are already facing famine.

Balance of risk

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with farmers' representatives, Ms Didiza said her department was keen to ensure farmers were not caught out by the El Nino effect.

"We are going to be putting forward an Agricultural Insurance Bill which will have commitment both from the state as well as the farmers so that we can have a better system of managing agricultural disasters when they occur," she said.

The government will help establish the insurance pool, but farmers themselves would have to contribute, she said, although the proportions of public to private money had yet to be determined.

Talks, she said, were continuing with private insurers to work out the best way to manage the fund and process claims.

See also:

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