Remote sensing helps African farmers with agricultural insurance

Along with six international partners, VITO is studying how satellite images can contribute to the development of new agricultural insurance products. These can be used to help African farmers insure their crop yields more effectively. 

Through remote sensing, VITO scientists can efficiently monitor the condition of crops from space. Since 1988, satellites have been taking daily snapshots of the earth. By comparing those archived images with current recordings, scientists can evaluate with precision the impact weather phenomena have on crops and their yield. 

Along with six international partners, VITO is studying how satellite images can be used to better help small African farmers insure their crops. Detection of crop damage plays a key role in agricultural insurance, and through the satellite images, that detection can be done in a clear and objective manner.  

In the summer of 2013, six different insurance models in four different areas of Senegal were tested, with the financial support of the Weather Risk Management Facility (WRMF) of the International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD). Based on the satellite images, several potential indices were compiled. These indices took into account the agricultural and vegetation characteristics, soil moisture and precipitation. Modelling helped to turn those indices into an index insurance, which insures farmers in certain periods of the growing season against specific weather phenomena, such as drought. If the developed index falls short of expectations for certain areas in a certain period, the insurer pays damages. 
 

VITO's role

VITO is an expert at crop monitoring based on data delivered in 'near real time'. This knowledge was used in the IFAD project in Senegal to develop insurance products. In addition, VITO is also a scientific coordinator, responsible for the communication with the international evaluation committee and validates the Senegalese field data. 

Remote sensing in Africa: facts & figures
  • Partner project between seven international partners:
  • Budget: € 500 000
     
Along with six international partners, VITO is studying how satellite images can be used to better help small African farmers insure their crops.