SOMETIME during the past week I read a story in one of our sister papers about the Cabinet having agreed to the use of livestock by smallholder farmers for medical aid purposes.
While this is a welcome acknowledgement of the farmer’s value of investment that is locked in his/her livestock the details of the operation of the scheme were not very clear perhaps due to want of space or because it is an idea which is still in its infancy.
This pen therefore, wishes to adopt a pre-emptive approach by appealing to the powers that be and whosoever is involved in crafting the modalities and legalities of this important health care initiative to thoroughly scrutinise it with a singular view of protecting the farmer from being short-changed or ripped off by a nice-sounding scheme.
It is a well-appreciated fact that there is a huge population of our people, especially those in rural areas, who are not covered by some of these important and useful insurance schemes such as funeral policies and medical aid cover.
In fact, some innovative funeral policy providers have started covering unemployed rural folks and hence it will be very helpful for an unemployed rural farmer to have his livestock being able to provide him medical cover.
Actually a significant number of these smallholder farmers are retired people who by virtue of their age seriously need medical aid cover.
It is therefore, in good keeping that we should appeal for this scheme to be properly and well considered so that it doesn’t turn out to be just another scheme that has been let loose on farmers. In the not so distant past this pen has been inundated with calls from smallholder farmers or would-be farmers who joined one scheme or another which promised them a certain number of animals after paying fixed subscriptions over a given period of time.
When it is time for the religiously contributing farmer to be given his animals, the scheme operators are suddenly not available and in the majority of cases the contributing farmer because he/she would have been made to join from a mobile unit which probably visited his/her area, they would not know the physical office of the scheme and are therefore not able to locate the scheme providers to claim their dues.