By Sarah Goellner
DES MOINES, Iowa — Andrew Mude was honored with the 2016 Norman Borlaug Award for Field Research and Application in the fifth year that this award has been given to a scientist under 40. Mude, principal economist for the International Livestock Research Institute, received the award for his work migitating risk for livestock farmers.
“Drought decimates herds,” he said. “The horn of Africa is home to 20 million pastoralists who are combating yearly drought in order to save their herds,” he said.
In 2010, Mude’s team launched their index-based livestock insurance program, which helps manage the risk of owning livestock on drought-prone land in and around Kenya. The program uses satellite technology to monitor grazing conditions. When an issue is detected, a check is remotely sent to the farmer so there are no political or logistical roadblocks. The settlement depends upon the policy, Mude said.
Mude explained that the program attempts to accurately predict the potential for livestock losses.
“This is a good tool for managing the risk, not eliminating the risk,” Mude said.
The team discovered quickly after research began that the farmers needed to be convinced to purchase insurance for their livestock by first understanding why it was needed. Once the early adopters, 40% female head of households, started to receive compensation payments from the 2011 drought however, there was a much larger positive reaction towards the insurance program.
With those good initial results in Kenya, Mude’s team is confident that more countries will soon jump on board. Both the Kenyan and Ethiopian governments are looking into piloting country-wide programs like Mude’s.
While Mude did acknowledge that there are some challenges to overcome, he is positive about the future of this insurance program, both in Kenya and around the world.
When presenting Mude’s award, Ronnie Coffman, chairman of the jury for the World Food Prize Foundation, explained that Mude exemplified the award’s namesake, Norman Borlaug, in presistance, innovation, communication, quality effort, leadership and impact in the development and implementation of his program.