Agriculture

2021 Inclusive Agriculture

Insurance Solutions Practitioners & Facilitators Seminar
28 September 2021 - Digital Edition

Building sustainable business models for inclusive agriculture insurance

Lemmy Manje, Founder & CEO, FinProbity Solutions, Dirk Reinhard, Vice Chair, Munich Re Foundation
Designing high-value and affordable inclusive agriculture insurance is not an easy task. Evidence shows that attaining viable scale requires collaborative efforts between insurers or between insurers and governments. The inclusive agriculture insurance practitioner and facilitator e-seminar was held on 28 September 2021. This e-seminar brought together international and regional experts who met virtually to exchange views, experiences and perspectives on how to get agricultural insurance to a viable scale while improving the resilience of smallholder farmers through the provision of high-value agriculture insurance products.
The majority of rural households and individuals in African countries rely on agriculture as the main source of income. Most of the agricultural investments by low-income rural-based households are heavily reliant on good rainy seasons. Climate change has brought disruptions to rainfall patterns and consequently increased the vulnerability of these households (See Figure 1). Insurance, if well designed and specifically for climate-related risks associated with agriculture, can help rural households and smallholder farmers manage their risks better or reduce their vulnerability.
Need for agricultural insurance
© Munich Re Foundation
The need for agricultural insurance. (Source: Ayandev Saha, Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning Republic of Rwanda)
The key insights and lessons shared from the practitioners’ roundtable and facilitators’ roundtable included the following:
Product benefit design

Bundling and embedding of insurance in agricultural inputs remain one of the key product design strategies for making agriculture insurance accessible and viable. Data availability for pricing and market analysis remains a challenge. The reliance on satellite imaging of weather patterns as alternative data sources has helped with index-based insurance. Rural households also face non-agricultural related risks, and bundling of agricultural and household risks often builds a better value proposition

Tax exemption and market subsidies can enhance the affordability and accessibility of agricultural insurance. The National Agricultural Insurance Scheme (NAIS) in Rwanda includes government participation in the scheme in the form of smart subsidies for both crop and livestock insurance. In Zambia, Mayfair managed to drastically increase scale (see Figure 2) after embedding insurance into the government support scheme, the Farmer Input Support Programme (FISP).

Number of farmer
© Munich Re Foundation
Number of farmers reached with and without governmental support. (Source: Humphrey Mwale, Mayfair Insurance, Zambia)
Challenges experienced included low awareness among the target groups, digitisation for end-to-end policy management, and difficulties with deploying stand-alone agriculture insurance products.
Trust, awareness and education

Building trust in insurance heavily depends on demonstrating the value of insurance through payouts. Client acquisition must be accompanied by investments in education and awareness, leveraging practices best known to the targeted smallholder farmers. Hollard in Mozambique uses folk storytelling to educate farmers on agriculture insurance. 

Scale is a success driver in agricultural insurance. Some of the private sector-led schemes usually experience low scale which increases steadily over time if the insurers persist with investment. For voluntary schemes, more smallholder farmers are likely to sign up only as they see the benefits for farmers. An aggregation approach or mandatory provision often helps with scale. Whether private sector-led or private-public partnership-managed schemes, inclusive agricultural insurance inevitably requires a long-term perspective towards investments. Practitioners shared their wish list in making inclusive agriculture insurance viable and this included subsidies, tax exemptions, more data on agriculture, increased scale through awareness and technology, cost-effective and reliable aggregation partnerships.

The view of the facilitators

A dedicated session with development agencies and technical service providers that have been involved in facilitating the design and implementation of agriculture insurance brought out some key lessons and recommendations. Access to Finance Rwanda, GIZ and Financial Sector Deepening Zambia were the key developing agencies on the table. These organisations have done a lot of work in supporting the development of inclusive agricultural insurance in Rwanda and Zambia. Celsius Pro and Risk Shield participated in this session as technical service providers.

The success drivers shared included integration of access to other agricultural financing mechanisms with insurance; working through contract farming value chains and working with aggregators. Investment in well-tailored sensitisation campaigns helps with client acquisition or sign-ups while claims experience helps with client retention and growth. The challenges highlighted by the market facilitators included finding proactive distribution channels, premium payment processes, low technical capacity among insurers, and robust and efficient claims payment processes. Most insurers also do not have expertise and experience in designing inclusive agriculture insurance schemes or products. Market facilitators have often supported product development through external technical assistance. Achieving sustainability may require insurers to build their skills for ongoing product development and enhancement.

While smart subsidies and external financing are required to stimulate investments in agriculture insurance products, caution is required on the potential disruption of prospects for sustainability. Clear exit strategies are required and supported market players must have a long-term commitment beyond support from development agencies. Unfortunately, some agriculture schemes have been wound up as soon as support has been withdrawn.

Across Africa, Latin America and Asia, agricultural insurance has been one of the core focus areas for inclusive insurance. Much work and support from development agencies are still required to arrive at sustainable and viable models. Improving resilience among smallholders has prospects of safeguarding and securing the futures of rural households and livelihoods.

About the event

Inclusive Insurance Agriculture
© Munich Re Foundation
This digital practitioner and facilitator seminar was hosted by FinProbity Solutions, TAG Microinsurance Association and Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) with support from the Microinsurance Network, Financial Sector Deepening Zambia (FSD Zambia) and Munich Re Foundation. This seminar is part of the series of regional learning, knowledge sharing and networking sessions aimed at contributing to the development of inclusive insurance markets in Africa. Around 120 people attended the seminar.

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