• Home
  • IFAD website
  • Subscribe to posts
  • Subscribe to comments

Remote sensing for index insurance: innovations in smallholder risk management

Posted by Steven Jonckheere Monday, December 8, 2014

Written by Harriet Kim

In 2012, the IFAD-WFP Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF) launched an innovative project to develop satellite-based solutions for index insurance to benefit smallholder farmers. On the 1st and 2nd December 2014, key experts and leading institutions from the project’s Evaluation Committee were invited to come together for the first time. The two-day workshop provided a platform for productive discussion on the main findings from the project so far, challenges, opportunities, and next steps.



IFAD-WFP Weather Risk Management Facility and project objectives:
WRMF began in 2008 to conduct research, build capacity, and implement initiatives to improve risk management innovations to foster agricultural development and enhance resilience against production risks, including climate shocks.

Index insurance is a particular risk management tool that can play a part in a holistic approach for smallholder farmers in agricultural development, food security, and disaster risk management interventions.
The AFD funded project – remote sensing for index insurance, running until 2016 - is trying to find solutions to one of the main constraints identified in index insurance: the lack of good quality, on-the-ground weather and yield data. Insufficient data results in poor product quality; consequently, farmers risk not being compensated for losses, increasing their vulnerability and causing them to lose trust in the insurance sector. Historical and near real time data are necessary to construct the index, design and price the product, and understand when it is triggered and compensation should be paid. Consequently, the project focuses on remote sensing innovations for capturing yield loss that could then be used in insurance schemes that best fit the specific micro-level needs of smallholder farmers.

Three different types of remote sensing innovations are being developed, tested, validated and evaluated in the project:

1.     Index insurance products which capture yield loss, are being tested based on a range of different approaches from those based on vegetation indices, to estimations of evapotranspiration, soil moisture, or rainfall.

2.     Crop maps created from radar satellite imagery are being developed to try and distinguish homogenous crop areas and growth patterns, as well as identify different crops in smallholder areas.
Start of season indicators are being used as a first indicator for crop development success or failure to monitor crop yields and vegetation.

Based in Senegal, there are four geographic areas of focus for the project which differ in rainfall pattern, levels of agricultural production, and risk profile. The remote sensing partners develop an index for the key smallholder crops (maize, groundnut and millet) in each area of operation.  At the same time, ground monitoring of crops is undertaken to validate accuracy and build a more detailed picture about the risks and constraints faced by the smallholders.

Partners in the WRMF project:

The project unites a wide range of different actors working in remote sensing, index insurance, aid and development, and agricultural research to develop, test, validate, and evaluate the remotely-sensed indexes and other products developed. Project partners include:

Remote sensing: VITO, together with EARS, FEWS NET, GeoVille,  IRI for Climate and Society, ITC – University of Twente, and sarmap;

Crop monitoring: ISRA together with experts from CIRAD and CERAAS;

Project evaluation committee: reinsurers (Munich Re and Swiss Re), space agencies (NASA, Italian Space Agency - ASI, European Space Agency), index insurance actors (GIIF, I4, PlaNet Guarantee), in-country experts (CSE, CIRAD/CERAAS, ISRA), and remote sensing experts (FAO, JRC, WFP, Technical University of Denmark).

1 Responses to Remote sensing for index insurance: innovations in smallholder risk management

  1. chandu said:
  2. Index insurance is a particular risk management tool that can play a part in a holistic approach for smallholder farmers in agricultural development, food security, and disaster risk management interventions. The AFD funded project – remote sensing for index insurance, running until 2016.Thanks for sharing..

    work injury compensation