Agricultural risk management seminar in Kiev

With the possibility of becoming Europe’s breadbasket in its reach, Ukraine’s agricultural importance and business potential of the sector was the main topic of discussion during a Swiss Re-sponsored seminar in Kiev.

In cooperation with the Swiss Embassy to Ukraine, Swiss Re held a seminar in Kiev for over 40 Ukrainian experts from the agricultural sector, including representatives of insurance companies, key agricultural trade associations, as well as banks interested in agriculture-related business.

His Excellency Dr Christian Schoenenberger, Swiss Ambassador to Ukraine, opened the 24 November event by highlighting the economic importance and significant business potential of Ukrainian agriculture.

Gary Reusche, Agricultural Insurance Project Manager for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) moderated the event. Reusche and Swiss Re Head of Agricultural Insurance for the EU, Africa and the Americas Reto J. Schneider, along with speakers from the IFC, the Ukrainian Agribusiness Club, SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance SA) and Raiffeisen Bank Aval analyzed the challenges to agricultural production with particular emphasis on financial risk management and potential market frameworks, for example, public-private partnership, to realize the full potential of Ukraine's agricultural sector.

The country is considered the potential breadbasket of Europe; 71% of the country’s total surface is agricultural area. It is therefore an emerging market of growing interest for the whole vertical value chain of the agriculture production, including the financial and the re/insurance sector.

Though Ukraine could remarkably increase its agricultural production, the yield per hectare is still substantially below the average yield in the EU.  The speakers said that Ukraine would need to improve its structures and regulatory framework to attract more foreign investments to the sector and increase access to finance and insurance.

According to Reto J. Schneider, insurance-based products would help to reduce the risk for investors, since the products can serve as cash collaterals and the producers can stay in business even after losses,securing liquidity. He says it is important that both government and stakeholders in the agricultural industry are aware of the instruments available to make agricultural production more resilient to volatile production levels (yield) and financial markets and which can increase the attractiveness of the sector for investors.

A more concentrated and strategically acting state involvement is an inevitable necessity to build a transparent and sound regulatory framework for all relevant groups (farmers, investors, export boards, insurers, banks, ministry of finance and agriculture).

The seminar and its outcome was highly appreciated by the participants and it gave Swiss Re the opportunity to build a stronger network with key companies and organizations in Ukraine.

Published 5 December 2011

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