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India: Picture-based loss assessment need of hour for crop insurance

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Sep 2018

India Agriculture InsurTech

The way forward to making crop insurance more of a success in India may lie in advanced methods such as picture-based loss assessment accurately to determine beneficiaries International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) economist Dr Berber Kramer has said. 
India is a country where the inconsistent monsoon coupled with natural disasters like floods and drought severely affect agricultural output and farmer welfare. The importance of crop insurance in such circumstances is obvious but many crop insurance schemes have failed in the country. 
“Formative evaluation of picture-based loss assessment is an effective method to help identify the right beneficiaries for insurance pay-outs in case of losses due to inconsistent weather conditions,” she was reported as saying by Times of India. 
“The picture-based method that we experimented with in Punjab and Haryana was successful. Pictures of crops taken by farmers during various stages of crop growth from sowing to harvest helped us assess the loss of crops productively,” said Dr Kramer, who led a study by IFPRI on crop insurance in India. 
Farmers are happy to adopt this method because it also helps them monitor their crops for weeds or pests, she said. “We received at least 25,000 pictures from farmers. Eighty per cent of farmers uploaded at least one valid (usable) picture during the cropping season. More than 83% took one picture per month. Three experts verified and fixed the compensation for their crop loss,” Dr Kramer said at a recent seminar. 
She also said that crop insurance policies should be linked with service providers such as banks, supermarkets and suppliers of farm implements, to help farmers reduce risks. 
She added, “When farmers are given subsidies by insurance companies to stop practices such as burning stubble after harvesting paddy, they tend to adopt climate-smart and conservation agriculture. Normally farmers burn the straw to prepare the field for next cropping season,” she added. A 
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