By Tina Rosenberg
In the United States, insurance against extreme weather is seen as so important that Washington subsidizes it highly and requires it for farmers who want other government benefits. If American farmers need weather insurance, African peasant farmers need it even more. But the vast majority of African peasant farmers have no opportunity to insure their crops.
Virtually all small farmers in Africa depend on rain for irrigation. Most have no safety net — a farmer planting an acre of corn twice a year can find her family nearly destitute if the crop fails because of drought early in the planting season, or too much rain later on. She will have invested everything she has in seeds and fertilizer. There will be nothing left for the next planting season.