Public and private stakeholders are looking into setting up freshwater aquaculture insurance services in Cambodia to mitigate farmers’ risks and losses due to rising temperatures and rainfall levels as well as other climate change-linked phenomena, with pilot policies planned for three target provinces possibly taking effect by end-2022.

World Vision Cambodia, American Soybean Association, partners from the financial and insurance industries, and farmer representatives organised a consultative workshop on “Unlocking Smallholder Financial Needs Through Credit-Linked Aquaculture Insurance”.

The event explored various approaches to aquaculture insurance, touching on procedures, credit terms, and other conditions, with emphasis on the importance of tripartite partnerships between the farmers, financial institutions and insurance companies, in accordance with principles laid out by the government.

Hav Viseth, deputy director of the Fisheries Administration (FiA) under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, told The Post that five institutions at the workshop in particular voiced interest in providing freshwater aquaculture insurance services in Cambodia.

These were AMK Microfinance Institution Plc, Chamroeun Microfinance Plc, JC Finance Plc, Amret Microfinance Institution Plc and Woori Bank (Cambodia) Plc.

He said that the policies, as currently envisioned, would cover flooding and drought events at an average annual premium of about $21 per hectare of water.

Forte Insurance Group CEO Youk Chamroeunrith told The Post that the insurance policies would be piloted in Pursat, Battambang and Siem Reap provinces, adding that more details still need to be hammered out.

“With all stakeholders providing feedback, we hope to be able to start in November or December, which is the upcoming aquaculture season,” he said.

However, Chamroeunrith acknowledged that many challenges may arise at the beginning of the project due to limited understanding of insurance among aquaculturists, requiring education and training courses.

The global trend of declining populations of freshwater fish and other aquatic animals have led to an uptick in fish farming, posing even greater risks for aquaculturists, he said, adding that the insurance services could provide a major thrust of encouragement for farmers to ramp up production.

Cambodian Aquaculturist Association (CAA) president Sok Raden echoed Chamroeunrith’s comments on the relatively new nature of insurance for the Kingdom’s aquaculturists, saying that ample discussions and concrete educational initiatives would be required.

This, he said, would be especially necessary to justify paying premiums on top of the overwhelming weight of production costs, along with the plethora of other challenges and risks confronting fish farmers.

Nonetheless, he said: “I support the dissemination of detailed and in-depth information on these insurance options so that farmers and aquaculturists can have a better grasp of these services.”