Blog Breaking the Mold: Building local capacity to bridge farmers’ knowledge gap on crop insurance

By Ivy Kinyua, Jamleck Osiemo, Cyrus Muriithi and Noel Templer
Editor: Esther Nzuki

Small-scale farmers face many risks out of their control, such as erratic rainfall, pests, diseases, and fluctuating input and output prices. These risks significantly impact the farmers' livelihoods, often leading to decreased yields and incomes. Risk management strategies such as crop insurance have the potential to cushion farmers against the risks and shocks. However, adoption of crop insurance is hindered by high premiums, complex claims processes, and lack of trust in the insurers,  which make it less attractive to many farmers. Another barrier to the adoption of crop insurance is the pervasive lack of information on how crop insurance (especially index insurance) works. A recent survey conducted in Meru County by researchers from the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT and the Innovation for African Climate Risk Insurance (InACRI) project showed that of the 1,400 farmers interviewed, 80% cited inadequate understanding of how crop insurance works as the main barrier to adoption.

To bridge the knowledge gap, the researchers in the INACRI project developed training manuals called 'The ABC of Crop Insurance', which provide step-by-step guidance on crop insurance both for farmers and technicians such as extensionists and agricultural officers. The manuals demystify concepts by using simple language, illustrations and examples to enhance understanding. The Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa  platform (AICCRA) - in partnership with InACRI and KAPRI Agency - used these manuals to train 106 farmers (both men and women) randomly selected in Meru county.

Besides understanding crop (index) insurance concepts, a comprehensive grasp of how crop insurance works requires an understanding both of agricultural risks and the benefits of effective risk management. Therefore, both manuals contain topics on risk in agriculture (types of risks, and risk attributes), risk management (what it is and associated strategies), and crop insurance (what it is, basic concepts, types of insurance, and its role in managing agricultural risks). The trainer’s manual not only elucidates these concepts but also guides how to effectively communicate them to farmers. The farmer’s manual is tailored to accommodate typical small-scale farmers’ information needs about crop insurance.

Training and Evaluation of the farmers using the ABC Crop Insurance Manual.  Photo credit @The Alliance/Cyrus Muriithi

Training Approach

We conducted the training in two stages: first we trained the trainers, who subsequently trained the farmers.

Selected trainers had an educational background in agricultural studies, experience and knowledge of the local languages, and awareness of social dynamics and cultural nuances. The farmers were randomly selected from the INACRI project farmers spread across all nine sub-counties of Meru. To ensure accessibility, we identified four central training stations across Imenti, Buuri, Igembe, and Tigania sub-counties.

To assess how much farmers learned about crop insurance, we asked them questions before and after training. This method, though rapid, is a good measure of knowledge retention. However, for continuity (knowledge can fade with time) we provided each trainer and farmer with a manual, to reinforce learning and increase knowledge retention.

Building on Insights

While our training approach showed promising results in enhancing farmers' knowledge about crop insurance, there is still room for further refinement.

  • By continuously evaluating and adjusting the training process, content and delivery methods, we can maximize its impact, especially among farmers with limited prior exposure to crop insurance.
  • Based on our rapid assessment of men and women farmers' knowledge before and after training, we observed no notable disparity between them. This observation prompts a reconsideration of the widely held belief that men, typically with higher education levels, outperform women in grasping concepts. By tailoring information delivery to address language barriers and other obstacles, we can potentially bridge the gap in knowledge acquisition among both men and women farmers.
  • Manuals serve as invaluable resources during training, offering structured guidance for both trainers and farmers. To provide comprehensive support for both trainers and farmers; there is need for continuous updates and feedback mechanisms that ensure that manuals or guides remain relevant and responsive to evolving needs and challenges for crop insurance.
  • Looking to the future, the farmers proposed the need for frequent and continuous training on crop insurance as stand-alone sessions, incorporating representatives from different insurance companies to provide information on the crop insurance products they offer.


We would like to acknowledge our partner KAPRI Agency (Priscilla Karobia) and the trainers: Denis Mbaabu, Jackline Gitonga, Victor Munene, Janice Makena, Brenda Kinya, Brenda Atieno, Irene Otieno, Brian Karani, and Jacintha Mukethi who supported these trainings.