Protecting growing prosperity: Agricultural insurance in the developing world

Published on

September 17, 2018

A new landscape report by ISF Advisors, with support from the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, highlights the current status and future development of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers. Based on interviews with more than forty-five key agricultural insurance stakeholders, our research paints a picture of an industry that shows great potential but struggles to achieve the necessary scale and product-level refinements.  

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In the past ten years, the field of smallholder finance has grown in both size and complexity. As new players and products have entered the market around the world, there is an ever-present need to understand the many innovative business models and product classes that are developing to support smallholder farmers in their quest for economic advancement.


One of these emerging product classes is agricultural insurance in developing nations. Historically, smallholders have had limited access to risk-management options, but increasingly, formalized agricultural insurance is offering them a chance to avoid devastating financial losses and securely invest in their own productive capacity. This report focuses on the current status and future development of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers around the world.


Different countries and regions have had vastly divergent experiences and approaches to developing this crucial suite of formal risk-management products. With the support of the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, ISF is committed to shining light on this emerging marketplace. 


This research focused on micro- and meso-level crop and livestock insurance schemes that address ‘occasional events with large economic impact’ on smallholder farmers in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. We begin by providing a snapshot of the market’s existing scale and dynamics, then move to a discussion of key market constraints and 'leverage points' that can support the development of agricultural insurance for smallholder farmers around the world. The hope is that future action by donors, practitioners, governments, and consumers can be informed by the experiences and insights of the market pioneers.

About the Author(s)

Initiative for Smallholder Finance
Learning Lab Strategic Partner

ISF is an advisory group committed to transforming rural economies by delivering partnerships and investment structures that promote financial inclusion for rural enterprises and smallholder farmers. Combining industry-leading research with hands-on technical expertise, ISF develops practical, profitable, and sustainable financial solutions.