Remote sensing-based Information and Insurance for Crops in Emerging economies (RIICE), a public-private development partnership project working to improve food security, is supporting smallholder rice farmers in Asia through technology—Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are specifically being targeted. This project began in 2011 and is planned to run until 2017, with the main objective of reducing the vulnerability of five million smallholder rice farmers, as it is related to natural disasters, in Southeast Asia.

According to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), “increased frequency and severity of flood and drought events due to changing climatic patterns has led to increasing insecurity and instability of crop production.” RIICE pools crop insurance and technological innovation, delivering micro-insurance against crop losses and utilizing satellite technology to improve rice growth forecasting capacities so as to better forecast supply and match with this with demand.

According to the SDC, “globally, 20 million hectares of rice fields are vulnerable to flooding, including the major rice producing areas in Asia.”  RIICE works together with national governments to mitigate the risks associated with natural disasters, by involving the private insurance sector, instead of placing all of the risk on the shoulders of governments and farmers.

Rice yields are forecasted based on information gathered by rice researchers at IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) and experts at the partner organization sarmap. Concerning the insurance for smallholder farmers, the SDC notes, “these new technologies offer an effective way to generate key information on crops, on acreage planted, on growth and yield development, and to assess crop damages and losses caused by droughts and floods.”

SDC believes that this project can be scaled up worldwide, maintaining a focus on smallholder farmers and poverty-stricken individuals, with the continued involvement of IRRI, sarmap, the German development organization (GIZ), and Allianz Reinsurance.