Dealing with drought in irrigated agriculture through insurance schemes: an application to an irrigation district in Southern Spain

  • Jorge Ruiz Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
  • María Bielza Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
  • Alberto Garrido Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
  • Ana Iglesias Research Centre for the Management of Agricultural and Environmental Risks (CEIGRAM), Technical University of Madrid (UPM)
Keywords: crop insurance, hydrological drought, AquaCrop, trigger index


Hydrological drought is expected to have an increasing impact on both crop and fruit yields in arid and semi-arid regions. Some existing crop insurance schemes provide coverage against water deficits in rain-fed agriculture. The Prevented Planting Program in the USA covers against drought for irrigated agriculture. However, drought insurance for irrigated agriculture is still a challenge for companies and institutions because of the complexity of the design and implementation of this type of insurance. Few studies have attempted to evaluate the risk of loss due to irrigation water scarcity using both stand-alone production functions and crop simulation models. This paper’s contributions are that it evaluates the suitability of AquaCrop for calculating drought insurance premiums for irrigated agriculture and that it discusses contract conditions and insurance design for hydrological drought risk coverage as part of a traditional insurance product, with on-field loss assessment in combination with a trigger index. This method was applied to an irrigation district in southern Spain. Our insurance premium calculation showed that it is feasible to apply this method provided that its data requirements are met, such as a large enough set of reliable small-scale yield and irrigation time series data, especially soil data, to calibrate AquaCrop. The choice of a trigger index should not be underestimated because it proved to have a decisive influence on insurance premiums and indemnities. Our discussion of the contract conditions shows that hydrological drought insurance must comply with a series of constraints in order to avoid moral hazard and basis risk.


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How to Cite
RuizJ., BielzaM., GarridoA., & IglesiasA. (2015). Dealing with drought in irrigated agriculture through insurance schemes: an application to an irrigation district in Southern Spain. Spanish Journal of Agricultural Research, 13(4), e0106.
Agricultural economics