175,000 Smallholder BCI Farmers in India Receive Covid-19 Insurance


Published Wednesday, July 29th, 2020

In India, through its partners, the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) trained 828,820 cotton farmers on more sustainable agricultural practices in the 2018-19 cotton season. It is these farmers — many of whom are smallholders living from one harvest to the next — along with farm workers and their communities, whose livelihoods depend on cotton production. In the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, farmer livelihoods are directly threatened. The consequences could be devastating for smallholders who lack economic stability.

“I am the only earning member in my family, and I have five family members who depend on my income,” explains BCI Farmer Vaghela Sureshbhai Jesabhai. “Treatment of severe Covid-19 cases that need special medical care is expensive. Without insurance, having the virus would significantly affect my income and my family’s wellbeing – it would devastate me both mentally and financially.”

In response to this situation, IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative — an important funder and strategic partner of BCI, as well as the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund manager — has funded insurance to provide income security to BCI Farmers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The insurance cover will provide a one-time lump sum pay-out to the insured in case s/he becomes infected with the novel coronavirus. The insurance eases the financial burden of Covid-19 infections and offsets for the loss of income farmer families may experience,” explains Pramit Chanda from IDH Global Director for Textiles & Manufacturing.

Read more about the Covid-19 insurance funded by IDH.

Our Implementing Partners (on-the-ground partners in charge of delivering the BCI Programme) AFPRO, Ambuja Cement Foundation, Arvind Limited, Cotton Connect India, Deshpande Foundation, Lupin Foundation, Spectrum International and STAC India have partnered on the roll out of the insurance cover to approximately 175,000 BCI Farmers and Field Facilitators (field-based staff, employed by BCI Implementing Partners, who deliver on-the-ground training to farmers) across India.

“We must protect smallholder farmers’ livelihoods – many lack economic stability, often living from one harvest to the next,” explains Hemant Thakre from Cotton Connect.If any of the earning family members become ill and unable to work, the survival of the entire family would be under threat. Any support they receive boosts farming communities’ moral and safeguards larger community interest in sustainable agricultural practices.”

“The Covid-19 insurance cover provided by IDH for the BCI Farmers in Maharashtra and Gujarat is a unique initiative, supporting rural farming communities to cope with serious health and economic risk triggered by the virus,” continues Sangram Salunke Regional Manager at AFPRO.

So far, there are 13 BCI Farmers in India who have tested positive for Covid-19 and have received, or are in the process of receiving, insurance pay-outs.

Bhukya Vinod, a 26-year-old BCI Farmer explains, “I am married with two children, and my parents live with us. At the end of June, I had a high fever and tested positive for Covid-19. Luckily, nobody else in my family was infected. I quarantined at home, and during this time, my family had no income. The IDH supported insurance provided economical support during this difficult time, and I don’t think we would’ve recovered financially without this support. Recently, I tested negative and I am completely recovered.”

About the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund
The Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund (Better Cotton GIF) makes strategic investments in Better Cotton projects to assist BCI in reaching the farmers who need the most support. The Fund identifies and invests in field-level programmes and innovations, while fostering the adoption of the Better Cotton Standard System by governments, trade associations and other entities. Find out more here.

About IDH, The Sustainable Trade Initiative
IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative convenes companies, civil society organisations, governments and others in public-private partnerships and drives the joint design, cofounding and prototyping of economically viable approaches to realise green and inclusive growth at scale. In 12 sectors and 12 landscapes in over 40 countries worldwide, IDH leverages business interest to drive sustainability from niche to norm, creating impact at scale aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals. IDH is a strategic partner to the Better Cotton Growth and Innovation Fund and plays multiple roles as a strategic partner, fund manager, funder, and partner for delivering innovations within the Fund.