Bringing together insurance, big data and agricultural innovation


Read report back from the conference: Bonn climate talks: Insurance offers untapped opportunity to make smallholder agriculture climate resilient

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. However, traditional insurance schemes rely on physical verification of losses, which is costly and not viable for many remote rural smallholders.

Fortunately, considerable advances have been made in the field of index-based agricultural insurance, which involves linking payouts to scientific ‘triggers’ or thresholds beyond which agricultural production begin to suffer. Index-based insurance schemes are now being piloted and scaled up in many countries including Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, India, and Nigeria.

Given the number of index-based agricultural insurance initiatives globally, the pace of change in science and technology, and interest in insurance as means to adapt to climate change, it is opportune to pull together the collective experience and draw lessons for further implementation and scaling up. Furthermore, there has been a growing emphasis on climate insurance in the UNFCCC processes, and the Paris Agreement explicitly identifies insurance solutions as an area of cooperation to address climate impacts.

The CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture (SFSA) and the KfW Development Bank (KfW) hosted a one-day conference on ‘Scaling up Agricultural Adaptation through Insurance” on the sidelines of UNFCCC SBSTA week in Bonn.

This one-day conference brought 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.


09:00-10:30Opening plenary session


 Welcoming remarks

Olga Speckhardt, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture

 The role of insurance in climate adaptation (15 mins)

Annette Detken, Head of Division, KfW Development Bank

 Taking stock of index-based agricultural insurance: Where are we, and where are we going? (15 mins)Ulrich Hess, Senior Advisor, GIZ
 Way forward: Scaling up insurance (15 mins)Rahab Kariuki, Managing Director, ACRE Africa
 Discussions (30 mins) 
10:35-11:05Coffee break 
11:05-12:30Plenary session 2


Paul Desanker, Team Leader, Least Developed Countries, UNFCCC

 Farmers' experiences and needs from insurance (15 mins)Ishmael Sunga, CEO, Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU)
 Insurance to incentivise uptake of agricultural technologies (15 mins)Dan Osgood, Lead Scientist, Financial Instruments Sector Team, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)

Technologies and big data for improved crop insurance (15 mins)

Pramod Aggarwal, Regional Program Leader for South Asia, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Setting the scene for the Parallel sessions:

Summary of key issues from main 3 presenters and how it relates to the background paper (10 mins)

Jon Hellin, Value Chain and Poverty Specialist, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
 Discussions (30 mins) 
13:30-15:00Parallel sessions on Partnerships and Pathways for Tackling the Big Challenges: 

Parallel session 1. Connecting insurance with farmers’ needs

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Parallel session 2. Big data to improve index insurance products

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Parallel session 3. Connecting insurance to climate-smart technologies and practices

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15:00-15:30Coffee break 

Closing plenary session


Jimmy Smith, Director General, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)


Report back from parallel sessions (30 mins)

Parallel Session 1: Olu Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)

Parallel Session 2: Berber Kramer, Research Fellow, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

Parallel Session 3: Helen Greatrex, Associate Research Scientist – Index Insurance, International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI)


Panel discussion: Partnership opportunities, Pathways, and Next steps (50 mins)


Stan Wood, Senior Program Officer, Ag Development Program, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Imad-eldin A Ali Babiker, Dry Lands Research Center, Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC)

Tonya Rawe, Senior Policy Advisor, CARE International

Isaac Magina, Senior Client Manager Africa, SwissRe

Koko Warner, Manager, Impacts, Vulnerability and Rosks subprogramme, UNFCCC

 Closing remarks (10 mins)

Michael Hailu, Director, ACP/EU Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)