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2016 Corporate Responsibility Report

Partnering for food security

805 million people – one in 11 – are chronically hungry and malnourished on the planet today. By 2050, the world’s population is expected to grow to an estimated 9 billion people, which will further aggravate the situation. Meeting this demand for food will be particularly challenging, as supply is constrained by factors such as climate change, depleted agricultural soils and the distribution of land, water and energy.

Small-scale subsistence farmers who feed their families and sell a small surplus on local markets provide food to the majority of people on the globe. This needs to change as more and more people are living in cities. Recently, the urban population exceeded the rural one for the first time ever, which means that cities are becoming increasingly dependent on the remaining farmers for their food.

The surplus subsistence farmers currently produce will not be enough to feed the growing urban population. Smallholder farmers must make the transition to commercial agriculture to feed the world. For this, they need access to credit so they can buy tools, seeds and fertilizer. But lending will remain restricted if banks fear that farmers will be unable to pay back their loans in the event of a lost harvest due to drought, flood or other disasters. Here, insurance can play the same role in the developing world as it already does in developed countries: protecting farmers against the perils of nature to keep them in business, even if disaster strikes.

Our notable achievements in 2016:

  • We discussed with a range of stakeholders how we insured farmers in 28 counties in Helongjiang Province in China against risks of flood, excessive rain, drought and low temperatures (see Ramping up natural disaster insurance in China);
  • We continued to provide data and information on agricultural insurance through our fact sheet series for African countries. In addition, we published the first such publication on an Asian country (Sri Lanka), looked at protecting cotton farmers in China and how big data can help crop insurance in the US;
  • We hosted the conference “Insuring food safety: What’s on the menu?” at our Centre for Global Dialogue, inviting industry experts to discuss operational risk management and insurance solutions to the challenges previously raised in our publication “Food safety in a globalised world” (see Insuring food safety: What’s on the menu?).