Insurance company targeting precision farming

Global trends in the agricultural insurance industry indicate that insurance companies were migrating to cover electronic farming equipment.

“Items such as GPS navigation systems, control systems, sensors, telematics and automation equipment will enjoy cover at or away from the insured premises, in any location (other than a building) or vehicle” said Emil Pretorius, Santam Business Development Manager.

A research report by the Grand View Research said the emerging new generation of farmers where attracted to faster, more flexible start-ups that systematically maximized their crop yields.

With pressure for farmers to reduce carbon emissions and practice climate smart agriculture, insurance companies were looking into this $2.3 billion industry.

Grand Review Research predicted that by 2025, precision agriculture market would have hit $43.4 billion mark.

“Providing specialist risk solutions for electronic equipment over a number of year’s means we have developed a detailed understanding of insuring these items,” said Pretorius.

The best placed resourced farmer groups would be those in the commercial category, who have the financial means and market access to set-up such elaborate devices. Smallholder farmers, barely surviving would be disqualified in future market requirement specifications.

Grand View Research agreed with this assertion and said that with a global population projected to reach 9.7 billion people by 2050, agricultural production will need to ‘“increase by at least 70% from current levels to serve nutritional trends.”

Furthermore, it was found that smallholder farmers would be again excluded from these fancy agricultural devices. A desktop study compiled by the University of Stellenbosch listed the rigorous process required to apply for a drone from the South African Civil Aviation Authority.

“The Civil Aviation Authority of South Africa (SACAA) views any drone/UAV (unmanned aerial system) flying in the sky as an aircraft, which need to abide by the same law as manned aircraft. As a commercial pilot, a commercial drone pilot must go through certification and exams” it reported.

Santam Aviation covered drones that included camera and software. Pretorius said Santam move to enhance electronic equipment insurance was partly inspired by the data collection these devices were able to collect which made the decision to compensate losses easier.

Western Cape Department of Agriculture was already planning for the 4th Industrial Revolution, establishing a drone school for its farmers. The National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development did not have a policy nor a plan on precision farming.

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