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If insurance companies pay out too often, farmers will be threatened with ruin in the long term
Date:9/20/2011

regenerate better and be available later as a reserve for dry years. The scientists fear that they might not make this provision in future if insurance companies pay out too often for losses in income.

The study also suggests how the insurance should be structured in order to prevent ecological damage. If payouts are only made in periods of extreme drought, the farmers will rely on using their natural risk management strategy in periods of moderate drought, which helps to maintain the quality of the pasture in the long term. "A natural risk management strategy has two effects: it is an investment in the future and at the same time helps to manage short-term risks. Insurance can only minimise the risk in the short term though and therefore does not have this long-term effect," explains Dr. Birgit Mller from the UFZ. If more livestock is now kept in the same area, the departure from a sustainable management strategy might trigger an avalanche: if the pressure on the pasture increases, the regeneration time and as a result productivity will fall, at the same time more soil will be eroded and more area will be turned into desert in these dry regions. This proves that rain-index insurance, just like other forms of insurance, motivates the farmers to take more risks; these may become noticeable in ecological consequences such as increased use of nitrogen and pesticides, a rise in water consumption, less biodiversity and more soil erosion. The erosion and desertification of fields and pastures in dry regions is already a major problem, which according to UN estimates results in an annual loss in income of around 42 billion US dollars.


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Contact: Tilo Arnhold
presse@ufz.de
49-341-235-1635
Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Source:Eurekalert  

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