June 2021: CropIn, in association with ThinkAg and HSBC, conducted a webinar on “Digitizing Crop Insurance” as a part of the AgFin Tech Series, Digitizing Agri-Finance & Insurance. The primary focus of the series is to advance the importance of technology in the agriculture space. CropIn’s tagline “Re-imagining Agriculture With Data”, outlines how technological innovation in agriculture can serve the marginalized in diverse ways, especially when supported by strong financial institutions.
The chief guest for the event was Shri Rajesh Meena, Registrar, Co-operative Dept, Govt of Bihar and was moderated by Dr Kolli N Rao, Senior Advisor, IRICBS. The session started with an opening remark from Mr. Hemendra Mathur, Co-Founder, ThinkAg and Venture Partner, Bharat Innovation Fund. Along with Mr. Kunal Prasad, Co-founder and COO, CropIn, the webinar was conducted in the presence of industry stalwarts like Mr Azad Mishra, Sr. Vice President for Rural and Agri-business Group, HDFC Ergo GIC; Mr Ashish Agrawal, President, and Head, Agribusiness, Bajaj Allianz GIC; Mr Mangesh Patankar, VP & Head of Agriculture Reinsurance India, Swiss Re; Apoorva Tatia, Head – Rural, Crop & Health Underwriting, Reliance General Insurance, and Mr Pushan Mahapatra, President, Strategic Investments & Head of Open Market, SBI General Insurance. The insightful session ended with a closing remark from Jitesh Shah, CRO, CropIn.
Commenting on the webinar, Shri Rajesh Meena, Registrar, Co-operative Dept, Govt of Bihar, said, “It was a great session, focusing on one very important aspect of Agriculture i.e. Agri Insurance and how it can be made more comprehensive with the use of the latest technology available at our disposal. Interaction with various stakeholders particularly the professionals working in the field of insurance was a great initiative. Such webinars are a welcome step towards making people aware of the problems that the Agri sector is facing and how we can address them. Ultimately the purpose should be how we can ensure farmer’s prosperity and their financial inclusion. I thank the organizers for this initiative”.
Mr. Pushan Mahapatra, President, Strategic Investment & Head of Open Market, SBI General Insurance, shared his views on importance of knowledge sharing across the value chain and role of such virtual sessions, “The contribution of agriculture in India’s economy is paramount. While the sector has taken significant strides, there are still various challenges that can be addressed through means of brainstorming newer ideas, the way AgFinTech series hosted a webinar. The discussion brought to fore multiple insights on how digitalization in crop insurance needs to reach the last mile and its importance in protecting farmers from potential risks. I am certain with discussions like these, the crop insurance segment will see a significant leap in the near future and will benefit farmers.
The panellists addressed and discussed the need to drive financial inclusion and progressive digital strategy for farmer prosperity using advanced technologies at an economic scale and develop need-based Agri-insurance products/models for insurers, farmer-beneficiaries and government agencies.
Dr. Kolli N Rao, Senior Advisor, IRICBS shared his views on the role of digitalization in predicting and preventing risks related to agriinsurance products, ‘Crop insurance despite over 40 years of presence in the country is neither adequately understood nor appreciated. Digitalization leading to transparency, fair and faster loss settlement could bridge this gap.
Commenting on the role of Agtech in increasing credit efficiency in insurance delivery process, Mr. Kunal Prasad, Co-founder and COO, CropIn, said, “The agriculture sector has transformed with the aid of digital inclusion. With the transition over the years, Agri Technology can now serve as an enabler for the improvement in agribusinesses, while Banks and financial institutions can leverage technology to estimate crop health, growth, and yield in real-time. Digitizing Agri-Finance & Insurance will drive financial inclusion and progressive digital strategy for farmer prosperity using advanced technologies at an economic scale and pave the way for strategic partnerships between financial institutions in the field of agriculture, ultimately enhancing the efficiency of credit and insurance delivery in the Priority Sector.”
Partnerships of Insurers and AgFinTech players for enhancing the efficiency of marketing and distribution for agri-insurance products through seamless service integrations was also a topic of discussion. The house also agreed that the union of Agtech & Rural Insurance is a successful formula for financial inclusion and farmer prosperity.
“Swiss Re has been associated with a number of pilots in India, where remote sensing data was harnessed for optimisation of crop cutting and sowing failure detection,” said Mangesh Niranjan Patankar, Head Agriculture India, Swiss Re. “There is further scope to develop alternate indices such as Crop Health Factor – trialed in the state of West Bengal – soil moisture etc., which go beyond the traditional manual yield index and bring in more efficiency during claim settlement.” – Mr Mangesh Patankar, VP & Head of Agriculture Reinsurance India, Swiss Re
Technology plays a significant role in scaling up the reach and operations of crop insurance schemes like PMFBY with precision agriculture. Use of historical and real-time satellite imagery, UAVs, remote-sensing based crop health monitoring, crop acreage, crop yield estimates along with local socio-economic and commodity pricing data (use of AI/ML and big-data analytics) for risk assessment during underwriting and settlement of claims will also be a crucial part in the agriculture sector.