Resilient agriculture – an engine for economic growth in Sub-Saharan Africa: how insurance can play a part

The region's agricultural sector has the potential to help drive overall economic growth, and insurance can help make it happen.

 The African continent below the Sahara desert is a huge and fertile land. Today, the area feeds more than one billion people and employs 65% of the Sub-Saharan labour force. The population is growing: the UN expects it to double by 2050 to nearly 2.4 billion people. With that, the demand for staple foods and livestock will increase.

At the same time climate change impacts such as severe drought and flood are creating major challenges for farmers, commercial and smallholders alike, threatening livelihoods from farming and a secure food supply for a growing population. More than 200 droughts have been recorded in Sub-Saharan Africa since 1980, with the worst in 2011 in East Africa impacting the lives and livelihoods of 9.5 million people.

Sparking growth with agriculture

While Africa is facing a huge challenge because of climate change, with the right tools and support agriculture has a huge potential to contribute to overall economic growth the region.

One of these tools is insurance – because of its ability to assess and price risk, support effective adaptation and mitigation strategies, and provide an appropriate mix of traditional and innovative risk financing solutions from government to micro insurance-level.

Having been present in Africa for more than 60 years, we continually support the establishment and deepening of a healthy insurance industry in Africa in various ways. This includes workshops we're holding in Nigeria, Angola, Mozambique and Kenya, to discuss ways of strengthening the national agricultural insurance industries in those countries.

Increasing insurance capacity

Swiss Re has also committed to tripling its insurance capacity to provide 1.4 million African smallholder farmers with crop insurance by 2017 through the Grow Africa initiative.

On the ground, we're working with our partners on innovative agri-micro insurance projects such as R4 in Ethiopia and Senegal and Kilimo Salama in Kenya and Rwanda.

Dialogue and partnerships for making headway

Swiss Re is committed to working with farmers, governments and NGOs to unlock the potential of agriculture in Africa. You can learn more about our efforts in our new publication Sub-Saharan Africa: breadbasket for a growing population.

There are huge benefits to be reaped by increasing the share of farmers who are insured. Still, insurance alone is not the sole panacea to achieve a resilient society. Partnerships between the insurance industry, local companies, governments and agriculture are needed to build solutions that fit local needs and contribute to resilient agriculture.

Published 5 May 2014

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