June 22-24, 2014 Zurich, Switzerland

Keynotes:

1

RAUSHAN BOKUSHEVA, Department of Environmental Systems Science, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich), SWITZERLAND

BIOGRAPHY: Raushan Bokusheva is Senior Researcher and Lecturer in Agricultural Economics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). Her research focuses on analysis of farm productivity and efficiency of resource use, modeling economic agents' investment behavior, including technology adoption, and evaluation of producers' decisions under risk, including climatic and weather risks. Prior to joining ETH Zurich in 2007, she was research associate at the Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Transition Economies (Germany). In addition to her research and teaching activities, she has been active in a number of projects funded by institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Bank, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and private businesses.

TITLE: Weather-Based Insurance Market Development: Challenges and Potential Solutions

ABSTRACT: Substantial efforts of developing agencies and governmental support measures to promote the market of weather index insurance in a number of developing countries, the farmers' demand for this instrument of risk reduction remains rather low. In addition to factors evaluated in the context of traditional agricultural insurance, recent studies discuss the effect of basis risk, informal insurance use, and model prediction uncertainties as major obstacles to the development of the weather insurance market. In our contribution we show how to cope with the above-mentioned problems by designing weather-based insurance as an insurance against extreme weather events and employing an alternative approach for modeling dependence structure in joint distributions of crop yield and weather variables.

 

1

BOB BURDEN, Consulting Manager, Serecon, Alberta, Canada

BIOGRAPHY: Bob Burden was raised on a dairy family farm in Ontario, Canada and has worked directly with producers, processors and other segments of the food industry his entire professional career. In addition to this hands-on experience in primary agricultural production, he has a B.Sc. in Agriculture, an M.Sc. in Agricultural Economics and an MBA specializing in Finance and Management Science. He is also a Certified Valuation Analyst and is a specialist in the application of metrics in agriculture business valuation. Since joining Serecon in 1991 and becoming a managing partner in 2005, Bob has been involved in a significant number of assignments with clients both in Canada and around the world. Serecon is a company that specializes in the business of agriculture with offices across Canada and more recently in the US through a Joint Venture with Farmers National Corporation out of Omaha, Nebraska who manage over 2.5 million acres of land.

TITLE: The Role of Non-Traditional Metrics in Risk Modelling

ABSTRACT: Metrics and their link to enterprise risk management have long been of interest to Bob. This became very evident during Bob's work as a subject matter expert in the development of loss quantification for various livestock enterprises as a result of disease outbreaks. It was also a critical factor in his work with the FAO in the development of public private partnerships for the implementation of biosecurity improvements used to prevent disease outbreaks.

While traditional financial metrics are obviously important, dynamic changes in agriculture have also resulted in the need for a more broad based approach in assessing risk. In order to broaden the application of the use of metrics in agriculture, Bob has been acting as the project manager for the On-Farm Sustainability Initiative, an industry consortium focused on the development and implementation of sustainability metrics for crop production systems in western Canada. As part of this initiative farm-level practices are combined with soil and climate data to model land use efficiency, energy use, climate impact, soil carbon sequestration, and soil erosion risk for numerous Canadian crops. It is interesting to note that over the past few decades, all of the western Canadian crops studied showed improved sustainability for every one of those metrics.

The system uses farm-level data to deliver accuracy that is not possible with high-level modelling algorithms designed with other climatic and soil conditions. At the same time, the model is designed to provide the information that the international food industry can use to quantitatively demonstrate sustainability and risk reduction to its customers.

This year, the initiative has created a Calculator that also provides feedback to the producer on how changes in farm management can ensure continued improvement in the sustainability of their operations. While the focus is to identify, qualify and quantify indications of environmental sustainability, there is obviously a direct connection to the financial viability of those practices.

The reality is that metrics are only relevant when they can address specific elements of concern. Since the consumers are indicating they want to have validation of sustainability, a number of industry players are demanding that the primary production sector respond. Perhaps most relevant to the conference is the fact that a number of land owners have begun to demand that farmers provide this information on sustainability metrics as part of their rental agreements. They are of the opinion that this reduces their risk relating to the potential depreciation of the asset that they own - agricultural land. There is also some indication that ethical funds are beginning to demand that this type of information be accessible.

The purpose of the presentation is to demonstrate how metrics related to sustainability can serve both the purpose of satisfying consumers, provide improved profitability to farmers, and provide risk reduction to the land owner. The intent is to link metrics with risk reduction in a non-traditional way.

 

2

MICHAEL CARTER, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, University of California, Davis, USA.

BIOGRAPHY: Michael R Carter is Professor of agricultural and resource economics at the University of California, Davis and directs the BASIS Collaborative Research Support Program which studies rural poverty alleviation strategies in Africa, Asia and Latin American. Carter¡¯s research focuses on small farm development strategies, including asset transfer and financial market deepening programs. He has published over 100 scientific papers and 3 books, and has mentored more than 40 Ph.D. students who now hold academic, research and government positions around the globe. He has managed in excess of $50 million in grant funds.

Carter¡¯s current research projects include analysis of poverty dynamics and productive social safety nets, and feature a suite of projects that design, pilot and evaluate index insurance contracts as mechanisms to alleviate chronic poverty and deepen agricultural and rural financial markets. This latter work is being carried out under the I4 Index Insurance Innovation Initiative, a joint venture of BASIS, USAID, Oxfam, the UN FAO and the Microinsurance Innovation Facility of the UN ILO.

A fellow of the NBER (National Bureau of Economic Research), BREAD (Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development) and the American Agricultural Economics Association, Carter has served in editorial capacity with several journals devoted to economic development and food security issues. A member of the Board of Directors of Oxfam America for many years, he currently serves on the board of Freedom from Hunger as well as on multiple scientific advisory boards.

TITLE: Emerging Insights from Behavioral Economics for the Design of Agricultural Index Insurance in Developing Countries

ABSTRACT: Technological advances, such as remote sensing of rainfall and plant growth, have raised the hope that index insurance contracts can transfer the risk out of small farm economic systems that debilitate their economic performance. Even though index insurance has several unique features (e.g., it appears to the insured as a probabilistic insurance determined by a compound lottery), standard economic theory of decision making under risk predicts that demand for index insurance should be strong. And yet in practice, many pioneering index insurance projects have met with tepid demand. The burgeoning field of behavioral economics¡ªwhich has led to a fundamental rethinking of decision making under risk¡ªoffers insights into this surprising demand pattern. This talk will specifically explore the theory of ambiguity aversion as well as the theory of certain versus uncertain utility as they relate to the demand for index insurance and the design of contracts. Results from framed field experiments with index insurance clients in Burkina Faso, Mali and Peru are used to measure key behavioral parameters. These parameters are in turn used to estimate the likely impact of behaviorally-informed contract design on insurance uptake and ultimately on the economic development impacts of insurance on small farm productivity and performance.

 

3MARCO FERRONI, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture, Basel, SWITZERLAND.

BIOGRAPHY: An expert in international agriculture and sustainability issues, Marco Ferroni joined the Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture as its Executive Director in 2008 after a career in multilateral institutions and government.

Before joining the Foundation, Marco Ferroni worked at the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank in Washington DC. As Deputy Manager of the Sustainable Development Department of the IDB, he had responsibility for regional sector policy and technical support to the Bank¡¯s country departments. As the IDB¡¯s Principal Evaluation Officer he assessed the relevance, performance and results of Bank strategies and investments. As a senior advisor at the World Bank he advised on donor relations and directed work on international public goods and their role in development, foreign aid and international affairs. Earlier in his career, he was an economist and division chief for economic affairs and international trade in the government of Switzerland. Marco Ferroni holds a doctoral degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University.

TITLE: The Role of Index Insurance in Agricultural Risk Management

ABSTRACT: To feed a growing and increasingly affluent world population it is necessary to modernize and intensify farming and close yield gaps -- an agenda that calls for comprehensive strategies to cope with risk. The presentation will review these and zero in on index insurance as a class of solutions with good potential for dissemination among smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries on a large scale. Products, pricing solutions and methods of aggregation will be discussed with reference to the experience and contributions by the Syngenta Foundation and key partners.

 

4BARRY GOODWIN, William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor, Department of Economics and Agricultural and Resource Economics, North Carolina State University, USA

BIOGRAPHY: Barry Goodwin has devoted his career to teaching and research in the economics of agriculture. His research program has addressed a range of important issues in public policy analysis, international trade, crop insurance, economic history, and applied econometrics. He received his Ph.D. in economics at North Carolina State University. He also holds degrees from Troy State and Mississippi State University. He has held faculty positions at Kansas State University, the Ohio State University, and at North Carolina State University, where he is currently William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor in the Departments of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Economics. Barry¡¯s published research has received numerous awards and is widely cited in leading journals. He also occupies prominent positions on several citation indexes. While his research contributions are very broad in scope, he has made especially important and lasting contributions in the areas of market integration, crop insurance, and the effects of farm programs on farm level decisions. His public policy research has been used by policymakers in the construction and evaluation of crop insurance programs and in international trade negotiations.

TITLE: On Modeling Dependence

ABSTRACTThe notion of correlation has played a central role in the formulation of problems by applied economists and statisticians for over 100 years. However, in recent years it has been widely recognized that linear correlation is a very narrow way of characterizing the dependencies that are inherent in multivariate relationships. This narrow view has particular implications for the pricing of risks involving dependent relationships. We review these issues and discuss how applied models may be extended to encompass nonlinear dependencies and how such models may be applied to evaluate risk and market relationships. Applications to the pricing of insurance contracts and market integration are discussed.

 

5INES KAPPHAN, Product Manager, The Climate Corporation, San Francisco, USA.

BIOGRAPHY: Ines Kapphan is a Product Manager at The Climate Corporation, a San Francisco-based company that provides software and insurance products to growers in order to help them protect against the adverse impact of bad weather. Ines oversees the company¡¯s Total Weather Insurance product, an index-based weather insurance solution that pays out based on observed weather conditions. Ines is responsible for designing and underwriting the company¡¯s parametric insurance products that help protect farmers¡¯ revenues.

Prior to joining The Climate Corporation, Ines worked as a research associate for NCCR Climate, Switzerland, a research center for climate change modeling, risk assessment and insurance, and was a visiting researcher at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Her research is about the design of parametric weather insurance for agriculture to manage weather-induced output volatility and micro-weather insurances schemes in developing countries supporting the adaption of smallholder farmers to climate change.

ABSTRACT

Coming Soon!

 

5SCOTT PELLOW, Chief, Business Risk Management Policy, Strategic Policy Branch, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Ontario CANADA.

BIOGRAPHY: Scott Pellow is currently the Chief of the Business Risk Management Policy unit within the Strategic Policy Branch at Agriculture and Agri-food Canada (AAFC). He is the co-chair of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial (FPT) Insurance Task Team that is reviewing agricultural insurance. Previously he worked extensively on the FPT Business Risk Management (BRM) Strategic Review, which evaluated government income stability tools. He has been with AAFC for 12 years, and prior to BRM Policy, worked in Economic and Market Analysis gaining experience in economic analysis of market and policy issues such as the U.S. Farm Bill, trade biofuels, animal diseases, and price volatility. He has represented AAFC on the executive committee of the International Agricultural Trade Research Consortium (IATRC) and taken work assignments with both the OECD and FAO to work on the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook. Scott has a B.Sc and M.Sc in Agricultural Economics both from the University of Manitoba with a general background in economic modelling and agricultural risk management.

TITLE: Canadian Business Risk Management (BRM) Policy Evolution and Opportunities for Insurance Tools

ABSTRACT: Canadian government policy approach to support income stability tools, such Business Risk Management (BRM) programs, has evolved considerably since the 1990's. Understanding the environment and dynamics of government policy provides insights for the path ahead. Insurance has played a crucial role in the evolution of the BRM suite and what are opportunities and challenges with developing insurance from a Canadian perspective?

 


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