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jerryking : smallholders   9

He Grew Up on a Farm. Now, He Helps Protect Them.
Oct. 3, 2019 | The New York Times | By Norman Mayersohn.

Books: Warren Buffett biography, “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist,”

Few livelihoods offer as many paths to failure as agriculture. Throughout history, farmers have been at the mercy of nature — be it weather, pests or crop diseases — even as the survival of people and livestock depended on their success...... Thomas Njeru, is a co-founder and the chief financial officer of Pula, a four-year-old microinsurance firm that serves 1.7 million smallholder farms of 0.6 acres or less in 10 African countries and India. Microinsurance — think of it as an offshoot of the microloan programs that kick-start businesses in impoverished areas — provides protection for low-income individuals who do not have access to conventional coverage....Pula, based in Nairobi, Kenya, partners with government agencies and loan providers to cover the cost of the insurance, which is included in the price of seed and fertilizer; there is no direct charge to the farmer. Among the coverages Pula provides is weather index insurance to cover failures of seed germination, using satellite data to determine whether there has been sufficient rainfall. Longer-term coverage, called yield index insurance, compensates farmers with replacement supplies in the event of a poor harvest......People in Africa don't invest in agriculture because the chance of them losing their money due to the vagaries of the weather is huge.........Pula’s mission is to give farmers confidence by providing risk mitigation. Our solutions protect a farmer’s investment by pairing it with insurance. We build business cases to persuade Fortune 500 companies, seed and fertilizer suppliers, lending institutions, and governments in Africa, that embedded insurance will help deliver better results for both businesses and food security....The sad reality is that farmers are one drought or one disease outbreak away from sliding into absolute poverty......the penetration of agriculture insurance in Africa is less than 1 percent. The reason is that insurance companies’ business models are not set up to serve the unique needs of smallholder farmers......scaling Pula’s business model to the point that insured seed and fertilizer become ubiquitous in the market......The average annual insurance premium per farmer is about $3 to $5. This includes the cost of product development, pricing, underwriting, claim adjustment and, of course, the claim costs. We use artificial intelligence, mobile-based registration systems, remote sensing and automation tools...Agriculture insurance is a cemetery of pilots and trials..
Africa  agriculture  behavioral_change  books  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  crop_insurance  farming  insurance  Kenya  low-income  microfinance  mobile_applications  poverty  precarious  Pula  seeds  smallholders  start_ups  risks  risk-mitigation  Warren_Buffett  weather 
october 2019 by jerryking
Citizen Walmart | Harper's Magazine
July 2012 issue
Citizen Walmart
The retail giant’s unlikely romance with small farmers
By Dan Halpern
agriculture  farming  smallholders  sustainability  Wal-Mart 
august 2014 by jerryking
Why some see big potential in tiny farms - The Globe and Mail
Doug Saunders

Oxford, England — The Globe and Mail

Published Saturday, Apr. 12 2014,

TechnoServe, a long-established Washington-based non-profit whose 1,400 employees provide technical assistance to small developing-world farmers....Those small farmers don’t produce much food in part because they can’t afford to buy decent seeds and fertilizer. They can’t afford seeds or fertilizer because they can’t borrow money based on their future crop sales. And, Mr. Masha notes, that’s because lending them money can be so expensive: Interest rates on tiny loans are already, by definition, very high; add to that the cost of servicing loans across regions, and the considerable cost of hedging those loans against volatile developing-world currencies, and, he says, “you’ve priced them right out of the credit market.”

Banks and micro-credit agencies are also reluctant to lend because small farmers often have no collateral: Property ownership is ambiguous and few countries have small-claims courts to deal with defaults. (Brazil, an exception, owes a lot of its development success to the creation of such institutions.)

While the potential in these farms is huge, few want to take the risk of building agricultural supply and value chains in the developing world. Such investments take many years to generate returns, which tend to be very modest – rendering them uninteresting to corporations and venture capitalists, but increasingly appealing to Chinese state enterprises and a few people with local knowledge.
smallholders  farming  agriculture  size  scaling  Doug_Saunders  TechnoServe  poverty  tacit_data  supply_chains  value_chains  fertilizers  seeds  SOEs  China  interest_rates  microfinance  microlending  property_ownership  developing_countries  institutions 
april 2014 by jerryking
The Microinsurance Revolution - NYTimes.com
June 6, 2012 | NYT | By TINA ROSENBERG.

Insurance is a peculiar product, unavailable to those who need it most. One group is people likely to make claims — if you want health insurance, for example, best not to be sick. The other underserved group is the poor.

Poor people need insurance more than wealthier people do, because they have no other cushion. Few people are always in a state of poverty. Most are cyclically poor. They work and save, but then something happens and they fall into poverty : a crop failure, a loss of a job, the death of a breadwinner. Often, the trigger for poverty is illness....Insurance offers a safety net, of course, but it is more than that. If you know you are covered, you’ll be more likely to invest in the future. “Your whole capacity to take risks changes,” says Andrew Kuper, president and founder of LeapFrog Investments, which helps to scale up companies worldwide that provide insurance to the underserved. “A daughter can go to school rather than work, the farmer can plant crops that can triple his income. We’re used to thinking of insurance as a safety net, but it’s also a springboard.”
smallholders  insurance  microfinance  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid  poverty  safety_nets  risk-taking  scaling  risk-preferences  risk-tolerance  underserved 
june 2012 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: FEEDBACK
BIG TROUBLE WITH BIG AG

Eric Reguly's column criticizing Bill Gates's recent advocacy of high-tech, genetically modified crops to combat food shortages generated much discussion among readers. One who's worked as a food and nutrition consultant with UNICEF, the World Health Organization and the World Bank said: On one of my trips to the wheat growing areas of Egypt, I found that the farmers use growing and storage practices which can best be described as medieval (JCK: archaic). A local official has estimated that between 30%-50% of the wheat and maize crops are wasted because of poor harvesting and storage techniques. If Egypt were able to have decent post-harvest handling systems, they would reduce their imports of wheat by about 30%. Another suggested that Bill Gates needs to talk to the small farmers who practise cheap, low-tech approaches to farming and not just the big agro-chemical multinationals.
agriculture  archaic  billgates  Egypt  Eric_Reguly  farming  genetically_modified  multinationals  smallholders 
may 2012 by jerryking
globeadvisor.com: The hunger game
April 27, 2012 | Report on Business | ERIC REGULY.
Bill Gates's recipe for boosting world food output may fatten Big Ag's bottom line, but what about small farmers?

The International Fund for Agricultural Development.

The problem is that there is ample evidence that the yield gains GM seeds produce are somewhere between overblown and negligible in many cases, and that GM foods have unknown effects on human and animal health because they haven't been subjected to long-term independent studies.

Problem: Smallholder farmers in developing countries who supply offshore corporations won't necessarily grow the diversity of crops needed by local populations. And farmers who depend on one crop are more vulnerable to financial ruin if a new disease, fungus or pest hits. Many small farms also don't earn enough income to pay for GM seeds and specialized crop-protection goop to go with those seeds.
billgates  Gates_Foundation  genetically_modified  Eric_Reguly  agriculture  productivity  farming  Monsanto  philanthropy  Nestlé  P&G  smallholders 
april 2012 by jerryking
How to feed 9 billion people: the future of food and farming
By Jonathan M. Gitlin | Published about a year ago.

Professor Beddington began by giving a brief overview of the report, also entitled The Future of Food and Farming, stating that the case for urgent action in the global food system is now compelling, and denying the "foul slander that I've been buying wheat futures to drive the price up." Although he was able to inject some levity, it is a deeply serious and somewhat worrying issue.....we need to stop romanticizing small farmers. The solutions to future food production can't and shouldn't be an either-or between them and large agrifarms. She claimed that big food companies' objectives do align with sustainability needs, but they're villainized unreasonably. Nestlé benefits from adopting small farm techniques that decrease contamination, and farmers benefit from stable access to customers.
agribusiness  agriculture  Big_Food  climate_change  cost_of_inaction  demonization  farming  food  Nestlé  smallholders  sustainability  volatility 
april 2012 by jerryking
In Kenya, Drought Insurance via Cell Phone - NYTimes.com
May 9, 2011, 9:30 pm
Doing More Than Praying for Rain
By TINA ROSENBERG

Farming an acre of grain with nothing more than a strong back and a hoe
has always been precarious, but now more so than ever, because of
climate change....Small farmers around the world need many different
things to help them survive climate change: seeds resistant to extreme
weather and pests, cheap irrigation systems, and better agricultural
infrastructure, such as more feeder roads. But one thing that can help
small farmers now is insurance....Weather insurance for small farmers
has always faced numerous barriers. But throughout east Africa today
there are projects finding creative and innovative ways to overcome
them.
weather  insurance  smallholders  microfinance  Africa  Kenya  risk-management  seeds  agriculture  farming  mobile_phones  crop_insurance 
may 2011 by jerryking
Microinsurance: Security for shillings | The Economist
Microinsurance
Security for shillings
Insuring crops with a mobile phone

Mar 11th 2010 | From The Economist print edition
microfinance  Africa  insurance  agriculture  farming  mobile_phones  crop_insurance  smallholders 
march 2010 by jerryking

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