Seeds of Change

How a small innovation put crop insurance within reach for poor farmers

Correction Appended October 24, 2012

The Tigray region in the Rockstrewn highlands of northern Ethiopia isn't the type of place where you'd expect to find an innovative financial product. Its residents are mostly farmers, poor and vulnerable to crop failure resulting from persistent droughts. That's precisely why the region has been chosen to serve as a test range for a new kind of insurance that could help poor countries cope with climate change.

The idea is simple. Instead of relying on food aid to help farmers after drought has hit, aid agencies can sign them up for crop insurance before...

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