Water: all the difference to the Ivory Coast and Cameroon

Too much or too little rainfall makes all the difference to farmers in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon. Our two new factsheets highlight how insurance can help farmers get back on their feet.

The drought of 2013 hit the Ivory Coast's key income earner, cocoa, at the same time that farmers in northern Cameroon saw their fields wither in the sun.

Agriculture is a major source of employment in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon. It also has a huge impact on their economies. However, the insurance market for agriculture has not developed yet in the two countries.

To discuss what the obstacles are and how they can be overcome, over 80 stakholders from insurance companies over governments to NGOs and multilateral donor organizations met in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon in June.

Two Swiss Re fact sheets, Agro insurance hotspot: Cameroon and Agro insurance hotspot: Ivory Coast, address some of the key issues for the two countries. These include  a lack of data for insurance purposes, the perils farmers face and the importance of  the farming sector for society in the countries overall.

Ivory Coast: export income in times of drought

Even though the country had rainfall in 2013, it was not enough to produce the Ivory Coast's usual cocoa harvest. This was a major headache for a country that depends on income from this critical crop, compounded by the fact that no insurance protection was in place.

Agro insurance hotspot: Ivory Coast underlines why this is the country's most pressing concern. The lack of income from its key export crop directly translates into less funding for other important needs.

As the need for reliable data for both index and indemnity insurance has been cited as one of the reasons this money earner isn't protected, Agro insurance hotspot: Ivory Coast fills some of these data gaps. In particular, it provides an overview of the kind of natural perils the country faces and the type of businesses farmers run, enabling the insurance industry to design insurance programmes to meet its clients' needs.

Cameroon: subsistence farming in need of protection

In Cameroon the situation is different. While the more humid south is managing well, subsistence farming in the dry north depends on adequate rainfall every season.

According to a study presented by the World Bank at one of two Swiss Re-sponsored sessions held in the Ivory Coast and Cameroon in February insuring smallholder farmers would boost the agricultural sector. Banks would accept insurance as collateral for financing seeds and other items needed to expand production. Agro insurance hotspot: Cameroon examines this potential.

Partnering to grow Africa

"Swiss Re can provide the data and the knowledge transfer needed to keep farmers in business, even if floods or drought strike" says Swiss Re's Lovemore Forichi. "The full range of insurance policies, as outlined in our recent publication "Sub-Saharan Africa – breadbasket for a growing population", proves that affordable protection is possible for every farmer" he continues.

Providing it is a must to feed the growing population in Africa – be it in Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, or any other country between the Sahara and the Cape of Good Hope.

Partnering for food security

Swiss Re believes that partnering for food security is a crucial step on the path to making sure everyone has enough to eat.

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