By Nguyen Thanh Binh
Imagine you are a farmer living in the Mekong River Delta where flooding and strong winds are your neighbors. Imagine from time to time when you sleep in your low-level house your neighbors seep into the house and force you to suddenly leave. Even worse, your strong neighbors may sometimes wash your house completely and you have no other place to go to. To you, as the farmer whose single source of income comes from growing rice crops, rebuilding a new house and home is almost a dream. Luckily, you are not the farmer living in the Mekong River Delta. But, unluckily, there are many farmers living in an upstream province of Viet Nam, An Giang, who seriously suffer from the regular bad neighbors.
RIICE (Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging Economies) is assisting An Giang province, Vietnam to prepare a pilot on index-based rice crop insurance which is expected to be carried out during the 2018-2019 crop season, with support from Swiss RE, Bao Minh and An Giang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development. Experiences of this initiative from many countries such as Kenya, Ghana and India show that crop insurance literacy for all the relevant stakeholders especially small-scale farmers is a prerequisite for successful implementation of affordable crop insurance.
The previous Government supported an agriculture insurance program in which traditional agricultural insurance based on individual yield has been provided. However, the program was not successful due to an inefficient and ineffective claim process, lack of technical support and technologies required for an effective implementation, as well as lack of farmers’ knowledge. Mr. Trinh Hung Dung, a farmer in Chau Phu District, An Giang Province, recently shared his experiences in a pilot awareness campaign on crop insurance:
I participated in the last traditional crop insurance pilot program which was carried out by the government in 2011-2013. At that time, my crop suffered from insect pests. Then I asked insurer’s staff to come and check out for the loss on my field, but they came too late. When they came, my crop was replanted. So, I did not receive any financial support ”.
In response to consequences of the natural disasters that farmers in An Giang usually face and to raise awareness on benefits of crop insurance, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in An Giang with the support of RIICE organized a two-day “Training of Trainers” on basic crop insurance for 30 Agricultural Extension workers and technical staff of DARD, Farmer Union, Provincial Extension Center and Woman Union of An Giang on 2nd and 3rd August 2018 at Chau Phu District. The objective was for the local technical staff to gain a better understanding on crop insurance and become trainers to train farmers in Viet Nam while addressing the ‘Agriculture Insurance Decree Number 58’ issued by Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on April 18, 2018. Also, the local technical staff will carry out awareness campaigns on crop insurance for farmers in the future.
Similar activities for promotion of crop insurance literacy are also being organized by RIICE in Cambodia, with technical assistance from PEAPROS Consulting and NUPPUN Economic Research Institute. A new Training Manual together with a set of educational materials on crop insurance will be introduced and applied soon in the two countries.