How farmers can use smartphones to make crop loss assessment
Small holder farmers are increasingly being exposed to loss of crop due to climate related risks caused by climate change. In this light, Weather Based Crop Insurance Schemes (WBCIS) were created with an intention to provide protection to the farmers against adverse weather incidence.
When a disaster strikes, one important aspect is assessing the loss at farm level. Can technology help, well we just learnt that the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has developed WheatCam, a picture-based insurance (PBI) app that farmers can download on their smartphones.
The Indian Situation
The main challenge with Indian crop insurance is the number of farmers, there are 138.35 million holders with an average of 1.15 hectares (year 2010-11).
Traditional indemnity-based insurance is too costly with small, fragmented and remote farms – posing a challenge for loss assessors to reach these areas for assessment.
The option preferred in this case is the weather-based insurance, where there is no loss assessment at individual field level – with payouts linked to measurable parameters (rainfall, temperature or relative humidity). However, weather based insurance has challenges as there is no uniformity in farming practices across a particular area.
Other crop loss estimations have been tried and these issues arise, hence the technology-enabled solution is poised to make a difference.
WheatCam: A picture-based insurance (PBI) App
The app was developed by IFPRI and farmers can take pictures (through the App) of their fields at regular intervals just before, and through the cropping season. These pictures are uploaded on an online server of the insurance company.
Learn about this App in the video below
In essence, the PBI provides insurers with eyes on the ground and cut the costs of deploying loss assessors. The insurance company can assess these images together with other data to process claims.
How efficient is this technology? It was discovered that the payouts based on the PBI farmers’ series of pictures were not different from the actual crop yields measured crop cutting experiments (CCE).
In the future, there is an idea to develop image-processing algorithms, instead of relying only on expert loss assessment.
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