Food security: important for Milan, Swiss Re, and the world

As food security takes centre stage at EXPO Milan 2015, Swiss Re continues to highlight why this topic is important for resilient socieities with the new factsheet Agro insurance hotspot: Zambia.

"Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life" is the theme at EXPO Milan 2015. 145 countries will provide their ideas on how to solve one of the biggest challenges we have in the 21st century: feeding our rapidly growing population.

Agro insurance hotspot: Zambia, underlines this point. The land-locked Sub-Saharan country offers fertile land, but is threatened by irregular rainfall.

Proving the case

Zambia's EXPO 2015 theme, "Come, let us make food," reflects how important agriculture is to the country. Some 85% of the population works the land and the sector contributes 20% of GDP. Maize, soybeans, cotton, coffee and other crops form this important sector.

But disasters have a ripple effect: 20 natural catastrophes have hit the country since 1980. Five alone were droughts affecting large parts of the country, many families and also the USD 730 million export income of the land. Money not made in exports means that services from health care to schooling may not get the funding they need.

Bringing the normal of insurance to Africa

Farmers in developed countries know that if they lose a harvest, insurance is their safety net. But it's the opposite in developing countries. If droughts wither the fields or floods sweep away harvests, farmers have nothing left. For many it means giving up farming and moving to the cities. On a continent that has the fastest-growing population, a population that needs food, this is a detriment.

Agro insurance hotspot: Zambia shows why agricultural insurance is an important aspect of building resilience in the country. With insurance, farmers can continue to run their businesses even if disaster strikes. It also gives them access to credit. Banks are reluctant to lend money to farmers; if a harvest fails the money is lost.

Insurance gives banks to confidence to lend, allowing small-scale farmers to invest and grow their businesses. The latter is a must to feed growing cities. If subsistence farmers can't make the transition to commercial farming we will lack the food to feed a growing non-farming population.

Innovations from farm to fork

Swiss Re recognized long ago food security's importance, making it a Top Topic and publishing works such as Sub-Saharan Africa: breadbasket for a growing population. We also realize that insurance is only part of the solution for the world's food challenges. Cooperation between farmers, governments, farm suppliers and other stakeholders is key to developing the solutions needed on a local level to feed the world.

Swiss Re provides know-how and financial strength to help all farmers from small-scale to commercial can feed the world.

Published 4 May 2015

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