When floods, landslides and epidemics took away all his business in the blink of an eye, the farmers could only say, "Europe is also heaven."

Vietnam has suffered 9 storms, causing 200 deaths and damage over 20,000 billion VND last year. According to the latest statistics of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the avian influenza pandemic since its arrival in Vietnam from 2004 to 2017 has claimed 1.8% of GDP and the lives of 125 people. In the first months of this year, African swine cholera outbreaks caused losses of trillions of dong.

Eight years ago, when I was a manager of a pangasius processing enterprise with farming areas in Tan Hoa commune, Thanh Binh district, Dong Thap. During the flood season that year, unusually large water broke the banks of a harvested Pangasius pond, next to the area I managed. Pond owner, Mr. Phu said: "I did not expect such landslides so quickly, I have not prepared anything". Usually this situation only occurs during the flood season. He stood dumbfounded watching the assets worth more than 6 billion drifting along the rolling Mekong.

A few days later, I heard that he was selling his fish pond to a business and accepted to work on the same land. The loss was so big that it exhausted the family economy, leaving Mr. Phu in debt.

"Europe is also heaven," he pityed when I had the opportunity to see him again last year. After Mr. Phu lost his fishpond, it was my company 's turn to suffer more than 3 billion dongs when pus and liver disease epidemic broke out. Conventional preventive measures have no effect, the mortality rate is up to 80%. Workers took turns removing fish in ponds all day long. That is also the general situation of a series of enterprises in Pangasius farming area in Dong Thap. Mr. Phu and my company are just two of many empty cases due to abnormal weather and epidemics.

Imagine, if a giant was swept away by the "supercar" with equivalent value, he was certainly compensated by an insurance company. The paradox is that even though they are worth billions of dong, most farmers and agricultural and fishery companies I know do not have any insurance contracts.

Epidemics and natural disasters are unpredictable hazards for farmers in any country, causing serious losses and a long time to recover. Although still a key economic sector, agriculture is less protected than others. In fact, no government can predict all risks in the future, so there is no policy that can help farmers be safe from natural disasters. Therefore, the role of designing an "anti-shock cushion" to minimize the loss from the nature of the state is very important.

Agricultural insurance is the main solution of the problem. People like Mr. Phu can restore production if they are compensated, the economy will also change more positively if there is support from agricultural insurance resources.

The government recognized the story, made many initial statements and policies to support investment in the agricultural insurance market, but few businesses were involved. In the opposite direction, despite understanding the potential risks, but farmers are still not keen on insurance services for plants and animals.

Many causes have been pointed out to explain the situation. However, the core problem of the agricultural insurance problem in my opinion is "benefits and costs". Agriculture is a high-risk area, and the cost of expertise in the case of damage is also very large. To be profitable, businesses have to charge a high fee, low compensation rates, and evaluate customers very carefully. This clearly does not attract farmers who want good compensation with reasonable fees and clear procedures.

From a financial perspective, it is clear that neither side is promised the expected benefits. This is the reason agricultural insurance failed last time.

However, broadly speaking, the benefits gained for the entire economy if agricultural insurance is important. Farmers are compensated by conditional insurance for reinvestment and businesses in the production chain, thus ensuring less damage to the country's revenue and GDP. Therefore, the market needs the leading role of the state.

This is also the approach that has been successful in many places. For example, crop insurance in Korea, central and local governments provide more than 70% of insurance premiums for farmers; The state also pays large compensation, exceeding 1.8 times the total fee. This makes agricultural insurance appealing to Korean farmers.

Another solution is to "specialize" individual insurance packages. For catfish farmers like Mr. Phu, due to the peculiarity of the ponds located in the sand dune area, which is easy to erode, farmers only need insurance when the dyke breaks. If there is a package of "dyke break insurance", insurance enterprises will be assured because they do not have to pay compensation for losses due to disease or inclement weather. The scope of compensation is narrowed significantly, since the fee is also lower, farmers easily accept.

While waiting for the government's "shock cushion", farmers need to be instructed to create on-site safeguards. Associations and cooperatives will be a prop for growers if there are reserves of funds contributed by members every year and used only in case of abnormal situations.

Epidemics and natural disasters are still a "matter of heaven", and the agricultural sector will suffer a great deal. Millions of farmers have the right to propose and wait for the agricultural insurance policy to be rebuilt and effectively implemented.

Lam Trong Nghia