Breaking the Mold: Building local capacity to bridge farmers’ knowledge gap on crop insurance

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Small-scale farmers face many risks such as erratic rainfall, pests and diseases, and volatile input and output prices. These risks significantly impact the farmers’ livelihoods often leading to decreased yields and incomes. Risk management strategies such as crop insurance have the potential to cushion farmers against the risks and shocks. However, adoption of crop insurance is hampered by high premiums, complex claims processes, and lack of trust in the insurers, factors which make it less attractive to most farmers. Another important barrier to adoption of crop insurance is the pervasive lack of information on how crop insurance (especially index insurance) works. A recent survey conducted in Meru County by researchers from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT under the auspices of the Innovation for African Climate Risk Insurance (InACRI) project showed that out of the 1,400 farmers interviewed, 80% cited inadequate understanding of how crop insurance works as the main barrier to adoption.

To bridge the knowledge gap, the researchers in the INACRI project developed training manuals dubbed “The ABC of Crop Insurance” that provide step-by-step guidance on crop insurance for both farmers and technical people such as extensionists and agricultural officers. The manuals demystify concepts by using simple language, illustrations and examples to enhance understanding. The Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA) in partnership with InACRI and KAPRI Agency, utilised these manuals to train 106 farmers (both men and women) randomly selected in Meru County. We highlight the main components and outcomes of the training in this blog.

Besides understanding crop (index) insurance concepts, a comprehensive grasp of how crop insurance works requires a good understanding of both agricultural risks and the benefits of effective risk management. Therefore, both manuals contain topics on risk in agriculture (types of risks, and risk attributes), risk management (what it is and associated strategies), and crop insurance (what it is, basic concepts, types of insurance, and its role in managing agricultural risks). The trainer’s manual not only elucidates these concepts but also guides how to effectively communicate them to farmers. The farmer’s manual is tailored to accommodate typical small-scale farmers’ information needs about crop insurance.

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