Webinar: Helping smallholder farmers manage risks: Innovations to improve agricultural insurance


August 28, 2018

When: 19 September 2018, 9-10 am EST
Berber Kramer, Patrick Ward

Download and listen as podcast on SoundCloud


Helping smallholder farmers manage risks: Innovations to improve agricultural insurance  (on SlideShare)

For most smallholder farmers in the developing world, livelihoods are intertwined with agricultural production, and thus highly dependent on weather. As climate change is making the weather increasingly unpredictable, farmers experience greater production risks. Agricultural insurance can be an instrument to deal with those risks. It can also help meet the goals of the Paris Agreement - not only by compensating farmers for crop losses and other economic damage, but also by increasing smallholders’ ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change, and by encouraging the adoption of low greenhouse gas emission approaches in agricultural production.

While agricultural insurance has been around for a long time, its adoption by smallholders around the world has been limited. Attempts to provide formal, indemnity-based crop insurance have struggled for various reasons. Most notably, conventional insurance suffers from high administrative and transaction costs, as well as asymmetric information between insured and insurer, which in turn gives rise to adverse selection and moral hazard. Index-based insurance programs designed to overcome these issues continue to suffer from low demand due to basis risk, lack of trust and farmer engagement, and poor understanding.

In this webinar, we will discuss two research-based innovations that aim to overcome these challenges: (1) bundling of index-based insurance products with novel climate-smart risk-reducing agricultural technologies and practices, and (2) the use of a new technology that uses smartphone photo data over time to create a new picture-based insurance product. The major advantage of field-based monitoring is that it can be used to reduce basis risk. We will present recent findings from research in India and Bangladesh.


Berber Kramer is an applied microeconomist in the Markets, Trade and Institutions Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). She joined IFPRI in 2013 and has a Ph.D. in Economics from the Tinbergen Institute in the Netherlands. Her research analyzes programs and policies that can help smallholder farmers in developing countries cope with unexpected expenditures or income losses, due to, for instance, illnesses and injuries or to extreme weather events damaging their crops. Dr. Kramer leads the cluster of research on agricultural risk management for the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions and Markets (PIM), co-leads the learning platform on agricultural index insurance for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and is the lead Principal Investigator for the Picture-Based Insurance (PBI) initiative, which develops and evaluates crop insurance products that use smartphone camera data for claims settlement and risk management advice. In other projects, she uses high-frequency panel data and field experiments to study the impact and take-up of health insurance, the effects of liquidity constraints and time inconsistency on household savings and health-seeking behavior, and interventions intended to make agricultural value chains more nutrition-, health-, and gender-sensitive. She has led research projects in the Gambia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Bangladesh, and India. Dr. Kramer is based in Washington DC.

Patrick S. Ward is an assistant professor of environmental economics and policy in the iMEP program at Duke Kunshan University. Prior to joining the DKU faculty, Patrick was a research fellow in the Environment and Production Technology Division of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Patrick's primary research interests center around sustainable development, with a particular emphasis on developing country agriculture. He has extensive experience conducting research in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan), having lived in New Delhi, India for four years (2012-2016). He has also led or contributed to research on agricultural or development issues in China, Malawi, and Kenya. His current research portfolio includes projects on agricultural risk management (including insurance and other financial products as well as stress-tolerant staple crop cultivars), soil fertility management and soil conservation, inclusive development of rural agricultural machinery markets, and water resource management. He is especially interested in how insights from behavioral economics and cognitive psychology can be used to inform policies and interventions to address environmental and natural resource management challenges. Patrick holds a PhD in Agricultural Economics with a specialization in International Development from Purdue University (USA).

About PIM webinars

The PIM webinars aim to share findings of PIM’s research, discuss their application, and get feedback and suggestions from participants. Webinars are conducted by PIM researchers in the form of research seminars. Each webinar is a live event consisting of a presentation (30 min) and a facilitated Q&A session (30 min).

See previous PIM webinars here

Photo: ulricjoh/Flickr


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