How VanderSat is helping smallholder farmers with satellites

November 12, 2019


he increasing frequency and severity of extreme weather events increase the importance of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers. These events threaten the agricultural production of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa. With an agricultural insurance, smallholders can increase their climate resilience, because they will be provided financial relief in case of crop failure. However, currently, premiums are often too high for smallholders because of the high risks for insurers. The risk information that insurers need for their insurance products is not available at the level that is needed for smallholder farmers. This makes it risky for insurers to provide insurance to this group. This high risk leads to high insurance premiums, which are too high for smallholder

Premiums for crop insurance are often too high for smallholders'

Agriculture and Climate Risk Enterprise Ltd. (ACRE Africa) links smallholder farmers to agricultural and climate risk management solutions. They aim to enhance the farmers’ resilience towards agricultural and climate related shocks by providing climate change information services, climate change adaptation strategies and tailored agricultural insurance. ACRE Africa has physical presence in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda and operations across other African countries. ACRE Africa has enabled over 5 million smallholder farmers in East Africa to access insurance services. They currently provide an index based insurance product which is based on coarse scale (10x10km) rainfall data.

VanderSat’s high resolution Soil Moisture data can bring this product to a scale that is more suitable for smallholders. By integrating VanderSat’s Soil Moisture data in the index insurance, the resolution improves 10.000 times to a resolution of 100×100 m. Moreover, VanderSat’s Soil Moisture data has a higher quality which is anticipated to reduce the basis risk.With the VanderSat data we also have a global coverage, and a historical record that is long enough to greatly improve insurance and advice products for smallholders in Africa.

VanderSat and ACRE Africa are now running an official Soil Moisture index insurance for Kenyan maize farmers. This project is called aMaizing and is funded by the SBIR call Food Security of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO). The insurance is underwritten by a Kenyan insurer and has now been distributed to a large group of Kenyan smallholder maize farmers in the counties Bungoma and Machakos.

One of the major challenges we are facing in this project is how to overcome gender inequality. Unfortunately, this is still a large issue in Kenya. We want to make sure that our products are not contributing to this inequality. Therefore, we have a gender expert involved. In this way we make sure our products are tailored to the roles of both women and men.

Our aim is to reach out to 2.7 mln farmers in 10 years and to insure 625.000 of them with our aMaizing product. Thereby improving their agricultural practises, climate resilience and ultimately their food security.


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