Jane Gathoni, a Kenyan farmer was pleasantly surprised when she received a text message from the African micro-insurance provider UAP saying she had been compensated with $29 for loss of her harvest due to drought.

Gathoni, a mother of two and caretaker of two orphans is one of the more than 9, 500 Kenyan famers who have been micro-insured. She has been farming for the past 11 years on 2 acres (0.8 hectare) of land in Kenya and joined a program that assess crop loss and subsequently pays compensations based on climatic data from solar powered weather stations. She used her insurance money to buy new seeds.

The scheme Kilimo Salama—a Swahili phrase that means "safe farming" was launched in 2009 and gives small-scale farmers in Kenya "pay as you plant" insurance. This saves thousands of farmers who lose their harvest often and can’t afford to buy seeds next season.

African farmers depend largely on rain. Harvests have been adversely affected in the past few decades because of sharp depletion of nutrients in the soil. According to Keith Shepherd, a soil scientist with the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Centre, this is due to rampant mining activities. Experts say the situation deteriorates due to unreliable weather patterns.

UAP managing director James Wambugu believes that this revolutionary scheme would make micro-insurance accessible to farmers by using the weather stations to verify local weather conditions. It also can help micro-insurance to become affordable and attractive for small farmers.

Insured farmers pay an extra 5 percent of the value of high-yielding seeds, chemicals, and fertilizers sold by agricultural companies who are partners with UAP. These companies match the farmers' investment to cover the full 10 percent premium it takes to cover the program's cost.

Switzerland-based Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture and Kenyan mobile phone service provider Safaricom are also partners in the scheme. When a farmer buys supplies from one of the two companies, an employee uses a camera-enabled mobile phone to scan a special bar code which immediately registers the policy with UAP Insurance through Safaricom's network.

A customized mobile phone application developed by the Syngenta foundation then sends a text message to the farmer's mobile phone confirming the insurance policy. The scheme is expected to reach a potential 50,000 Kenyan farmers in near future.