Rice is one of the world’s most important staple food, with more than 3.5 billion people depending on rice worldwide. Most rice is produced in Asia: 90 percent of the world’s rice is grown on 140 million hectares of land – an area larger than South Africa. Rice is also the main source of income for farmers in Asia. However, the entire region is struggling with extreme weather conditions like floods, typhoons and droughts, which can destroy the harvest of the rice farmers. One way to manage the risks of smallholders is the implementation of crop insurances.

The overall aim of the project Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging economies (“RIICE”) is to reduce the vulnerability of rice smallholder farmers in low-income countries in Asia and beyond. RIICE is implemented through a public-private-partnership between the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), sarmap and SwissRe.

The parties make use of remote sensing technologies to map and observe rice growth in selected regions in Asia (Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam). Such information helps governments to make the necessary provision to meet potential food shortages given that rice is the most important crop for most Asian countries. Additionally, such information can help stakeholders involved in rice production to better manage the risks involved. A key option at hands for governments is to establish agricultural insurance solutions to protect rice smallholders. In the same way, the risks involved in agricultural lending by banks to rice smallholders can be reduced through insurance that protects the farmers’ loans against defaulting due to yield losses and thus trigger more investments in agricultural production.