Before drought hit northern Kenya in 2016, Dahira Ali, 50, had 300 sheep. By the time the rains broke, though, she had lost 150 because there was not enough fodder on the parched lands to feed them, while the other 150 were too weak to sell. Continue reading
14 May 2017
As climate change takes hold, increasingly erratic weather and climate shifts threaten already tenuous agricultural livelihoods and food security in the developing world. Agricultural insurance is an important tool which can help address this risk, by providing indemnity payments to farmers. Join the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) in this one-day conference that will bring together the climate change, agriculture and insurance communities to highlight the value of index-based insurance, draw lessons and identify key challenges for effective scaling up of index-based insurance as a climate change adaptation action. Read more >>
In this guest blog post, Erik Chavez introduces the WINnERS project, a new initiative developing weather-index based risk services based at Imperial College London.
Did you know that more than 50% of disruptions to food and fibre supply chains are caused by storms or droughts? As extreme weather events become more severe and frequent, the challenges to operating supply chains that meet global food security needs are only expected to multiply. Demand for food, feed and fibre already outpaces supply and will only increase with population growth, rising incomes and shifts in energy resources to biofuels. Continue reading
A recent Reuters article listed ten climate change adaptation technologies that can help the world’s farmers meet food demands within more extreme weather conditions:
1. Innovations around infectious diseases. Hotter global temperatures will lead to the spread of more infectious diseases such as malaria, dengue, tick-borne encephalitis, and Lyme disease, according to the UNFCCC. Most of this will happen in regions that are tropical and close to tropical geographies. Higher temperatures will also lead to increases of food-born diseases like Salmonella in more developed regions. Innovations in drug delivering, drugs themselves, and prevention will be needed.
2. Flood safeguards. Building owners and farmers in vulnerable regions will increasingly look to technologies that can help them adapt to potential floods. Those could include building homes on stilts, to crafting barriers around rivers in populated regions, and using seeds and crops that are more resistant to floods.
3. Weather forecasting technologies. Extreme weather conditions, from massive floods to hurricanes, will become more common in certain regions because of the warming of the Earth. Weather forecasting has been an area of little innovation and will depend heavily on information technology tools (satellites, software, computing, sensors) to inject some much-needed innovation into the sector.
4. Insurance tools. To help spread the risk of extreme weather events and higher temperatures, farmers and governments in developing countries could invest in insurance programs that would pay out when poor conditions happen. Already, insurance companies in some areas are seeing more events around flooding due to climate change. In particular, look to insurance tools that came out of the Internet industry — like WeatherBill — to find solutions.
5. More resilient crops. High temperatures can cut annual crop productivity dramatically, can lead to droughts or more rainfall, and can lead to longer or shorter crop seasons. Farmers that grow crops on risk-prone lands will be looking for seeds that can withstand higher temperatures, more or less water, and fluctuating crop cycle times. Genetically modified crops could play a key role in this movement.
6. Supercomputing. Weather forecasting and climate change data will benefit immensely from more powerful and faster supercomputers that can crunch data and make important predictions in real time. Can exascale computing save us?
7. Water Purification. Harsher and more wide-spread droughts will lead to a strain on communities and farmers that need fresh water. At the same time, rising sea levels will affect coastal regions, potentially leading to an increase of salt in ground water. So-called desalination technology has seen an under-investment by the venture capitalist community, as VCs are unfamiliar with the markets for water technology.
8. Water Recycling. Beyond desalination, other water technologies include using gray water and harvesting rainwater, for crops and everyday human uses. The key to this type of technology is that it has to be cheap, cheap, cheap.
9. Efficient Irrigation Systems. While it’s not cutting edge technology, farmers in affected regions will be quick to embrace irrigation systems that are much more efficient than they currently use. Packaging a product attractive to this segment could be popular.
10. Sensors. With all the potential problems and fluctuations in the environment due to global warming, there will be a growth in the need for accurate environmental data, particularly from sensors. Whether these are located in the ocean, in the atmosphere, in soil, in flood zones or in arid drought-stricken lands, organizations, governments and companies will want to track the changes in order to develop solutions to deal with the problem.
Following a successful pilot phase for the new insurance scheme developed by UAP in conjunction with the Syngenta Foundation, Kenyan farmers will be able to purchase insurance against the effects of drought and excessive rain.
The program is the first of its kind. Here are more details:
Under the novel system, farmers register their purchases by sending an SMS to a phone number provided by UAP. The weather stations then monitor the weather and inform the insurance company of impending crop failure and subsequent compensation. Each farmer is then informed via SMS about the payouts. Costs are kept down through the use of automated weather stations which avoid the need for expensive field visits to farms to ascertain risk and loss. This makes the insurance feasible for both the farmer and the insurance company.
The first pay-out to farmers affected by drought happened in Nanyuki last week. UAP Head of Marketing and Distribution Joseph Kamiri said that the company had developed the product in response to a great need identified while developing agriculture insurance products for the Kenyan market in conjunction with the Syngenta Foundation.
The early success of the programme has given it the go-ahead to be released across the country in 2010, said Rose Goslinga, insurance coordinator of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture in Kenya:
Traditionally, smallholder farmers have been totally dependent on the vagaries of weather. In times of drought they lost their crops and their investment in seed and fertilizer. To make matters worse, farmers then had to pay for a second lot of seed to enable them to replant. But because they had not obtained a crop, they had little money, if any, to repurchase the seed.
In recent months, Kenya has been hit by severe drought, so this new programme will likely go a long ways toward helping impacted farmers get back on their feet.
An innovative programme launched in 2005 for groundnut farmers in Malawi helps farmers to obtain certified seeds, which produce increased yields and revenues as well as greater resistance to disease.
In addition, the National Smallholder Farmers’ Association of Malawi, in conjunction with the Insurance Association of Malawi and with technical assistance from the World Bank and Opportunity International Network, financed by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, has designed an index-based weather insurance contract for these farmers.
If a drought leads to insufficient groundnut production, the bank pays the loans of insured farmers directly. If there is no drought, the farmers benefit from selling the higher-value production.
This is the first time that such index-based weather insurance policies have been sold to smallholder farmers in Africa. A similar pilot in India in 2003 has been expanded to more than 250,000 farmers.