September 28, 2018
By Erica Lee
About an hour and thirty-minute drive from Suva, Fiji, sits a 45-acre cattle farmstead, passed through three generations of cattle farmers from the Singh family.
Lusia Singh, the registered principle owner of the farm passed away on Saturday 26th May 2018 after succumbing to a kidney failure. She was survived by her five sons, three of whom are married and also settled on the farm with their families. They are the last decedents of the original five Punjabi families who moved from Northern India, making Naluwai settlement in Vunidawa, Naitasiri province their new home.
On the farm the Singh family raise 69 cattle, of which 35 are milking cows. These provide the family with their main source of income. The small holder farm produces about 416 liters per week which they sell to Fiji Cooperatives Dairy Company Limited (FCDCL). To supplement this income, the family also grows taro and other cash crops and they run a carrier business (a heavy vehicle used to transport passengers and agro produce).
Lusia, an i-Taukei woman hailing from Rewa, inherited the land from her late husband, Ranjit who had passed away in 2003. Now this land will be passed to Lusia’s next of kin, her son Dharmendra Singh.
With a large extended family to support and a farm to operate, the Singh siblings did not have much money put aside to cover the cost of their mother’s funeral.
Two days after her passing, brothers Dharmendra and Jasvir visited the FCDCL office in Nausori to seek a microfinance loan to assist their family with the funeral expenses. It was here that they discovered that, while they were not eligible for a loan for funerals, their mother was covered under a recently launched insurance scheme for dairy farmers. Just two months prior to her death, Lusia had signed forms to be part of the microinsurance scheme launched by FCDCL in March 2018, in partnership with FijiCare Insurance Limited and supported by the United Nation’s Pacific Financial Inclusion Programme.
Under this scheme, Lusia had paid FJD $52 (~USD $25) for her yearly insurance premium and nominated her son Dharmendra Singh as her beneficiary should anything happen to her. Her insurance covers a $4,000 Death Benefit, $3,000 Personal Accident and $3,000 for Fire.
Under the Death Benefit, Lusia’s family received $1,000 immediately upon notification to FijiCare of her passing. This money is designed to ease some of the costs of her funeral expenses. The remainder of the money is released when a death certificate is produced.
The Singh family appreciated the timely financial support that was received within 24 hours of the claim lodgment. Their family are the first of close to 300 registered FCDCL dairy farmers to benefit from an insurance scheme that has only just started.
The bundled microinsurance product is one of PFIP’s many regional efforts to increase the use of financial instruments, especially insurance, to help Pacific Islanders cope with the various financial risks in their life. This project has been partially funded by the Australian Government and the Russian-Federation, UNDP administered Regional Disaster Resilience in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (RESPAC) Programme.
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