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Agriculture insurance a hard sell

About a year after offering the country’s sole agriculture policy, Forte Insurance is struggling to sell coverage.

“We still need time to get farmers to understand the benefits of agricultural insurance,” said Youk Chamroenrith, director and general manager of Forte. “We have four clients signed up with us now. I can say for now it is not going smoothly yet.”

Chamroenrith expects that the new policy will find more clients in the next few years as awareness catches on among farmers.

“Agricultural insurance helps secure their financial situation when their crops in the plantations are destroyed by either fire or natural disaster,” he said.

Farmers across the country were powerless to stop their fields from being damaged by flooding during last year’s rainy season. As a result, many went into debt.

The company calculates prices based largely on the size and age of the land under cultivation. So far, Forte covers rubber, cassava and maize crops.

Though the Insurance Association of Cambodia says companies are seeking the necessary licenses to follow Forte, no one has taken the leap, mainly because customers aren’t interested.

“Farmers often view insurance as an unnecessary expense rather than an investment to curtail future risk, especially with small-scale farming operations,” said Michael Girling, acting CEO of Infinity Insurance.

Girling also said that while Infinity doesn’t offer the coverage, it has potential to grow in Cambodia.

Ty Atith, deputy general director of the insurance association, said the product will catch on as the sector expands.

“It’s a good sign for insurance when a new product is introduced to the market. We have never had this agricultural insurance before,” he said.

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