On the margins of the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden held a meeting on 26 January 2012 with representatives of the AllianzRe insurance company for an exchange on a joint project to provide millions of rice farmers in Asia with enhanced security against crop losses. Thanks to vanguard technology, a substantial improvement is to be made in forecasting crop yields, thereby enabling smallholders to conclude micro-insurance policies. In a large number of cases, Asian rice farmers with small rice paddies are deprived of access to insurance coverage protecting them against production shortfalls. The project known as RIICE (Remote sensing-based information and insurance for crops in emerging economies), in which the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) is participating, seeks to change this situation. Also involved in the project is the Ticino enterprise sarmap SA which processes satellite data and feeds it into a databank. The results are used to forecast the rice crops. Thanks to their high degree of reliability, the forecasts can then be used as the basis upon which insurance companies can assess risk. In this way, even small rice producers will be enabled to conclude micro-insurance policies.
Further to the talks with AllianzRe, which is also participating in the project, SDC Director-General Martin Dahinden had this to say: “RIICE will provide support to the governments in Asia in reducing the risks associated with food security, while at the same time, small farmers will receive protection from financial losses due to natural disasters.”
The rice paddies of millions of small farmers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam are a basic component of the RIICE project, thus making it the largest project targeting micro-insurance in the domain of agriculture. In the first phase of the project, at least five million rice farmers are to be enabled to obtain micro-insurance coverage. In a second phase, the goal is that other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America replicate this technological approach. In this sense, RIICE can indeed by seen as a pioneering project.
In addition to the SDC, AllianzRe, and sarmap SA, the German Development Organization GIZ and the International Rice Research Institute IRRI are also engaged in the RIICE project. The first phase has been planned to last three years. The SDC is participating with a credit line of some CHF 5 million.