DURBAN – In what is believed to be a first for South African agriculture, SA Canegrowers Association has established a funeral benefits scheme for farmworkers and for the industry’s thousands of small-scale growers.
Following research by the association in 2015 that revealed how the high cost of funerals was impacting on the lives of workers and sugar cane growers, the body decided to intervene to help.
Senior regional manager: Midlands and South Coast Craig Breetzke said the project started after it was revealed that the most vulnerable members of the sugar cane industry were unable to afford adequate funeral insurance cover for themselves for their immediate and extended families.
“When we looked at the market, we realised we needed a product specifically designed for the agricultural sector. It had to take into account that many small-scale growers may have eight dependants and farmworkers as many as 15,” he said.
He said the R1million already paid out in claims demonstrated how the association was committed to building financial inclusion and demonstrated the benefits of the scheme for farmworkers and their families.
The SA Canegrowers Funeral Benefits Scheme is underwritten by Guardrisk Life, with Mihr Integrated Membership Administration (Mima) the financial services administration partner and Ulwembu Financial Services responsible for advising members on financial aspects of the cover.
SA Canegrowers offers a R15 subsidy towards the cost of benefits on the programme. It covers small-scale growers between 18 and 65 with R10000 funeral cover.
Coverage for growers from 66 to 85, as well as immediate and extended family, is activated by registration on the scheme and the pre-payment of contributions.
For farmworkers employed by commercial farmers, contributions are paid on behalf of employees via a payroll deduction.
With almost 5000 farmworkers and small-scale growers signed up, Mima chief executive Rosa Theron predicts by June this year those numbers will have doubled.
The broker principal for Ulwembu Financial Services, Siboniso Mthembu, said as a result of working closely with Mihr and the association a unique product was developed – one which meets the needs of rural people.
“The product is priced competitively. It has an afro-centric design and SA Canegrowers is leading the way in the development of financial services to new markets.
“They are giving back to our communities,” said Mthembu.