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Prospects for weather-indexed insurance for blueberry growers

Xuan Liu (BCI, Victoria, Canada)
G. Cornelis van Kooten (Department of Economics, University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)
Eric Martin Gerbrandt (British Columbia Blueberry Council, Abbotsford, Canada)
Jun Duan (University of Victoria, Victoria, Canada)

Agricultural Finance Review

ISSN: 0002-1466

Article publication date: 20 December 2022

Issue publication date: 14 March 2023




The authors investigate whether an index-based weather insurance (WII) product can complement or replace existing traditional crop yield insurance for mitigating farmers' financial risks, with an application to blueberry growers in British Columbia (BC).


A hybrid model combining expected utility (EU) and prospect values is developed to analyse farmers' demand for WII.


While weather data are used to investigate supply elements, a hybrid model combining EU theory and prospect theory (PT) is developed to analyse farmers' demand for WII. On the supply side, a quality index is constructed and the relationship between the quality index and key weather parameters is quantified using a partial least squares structural model. The authors then model weather parameters via time-series analysis and statistical distributions to provide reasonable estimates for calculating actuarially sound insurance premiums for a rainfall indexed, insurance product. This model indicates that decreases in the proportion of a blueberry grower's total revenue and revenue volatility will decrease the possibility that they participate in WII. At the same time, an increase in the value loss aversion coefficient and WII's basis risk further leads to less demand for WII. In short, a grower may decide not to participate in WII at an actuarially fair premium due to the combined effects of the above factors. Overall, while the supply analysis enables us to demonstrate that WII can potentially help in mitigating farmers' financial risks, it turns out that, on the demand side, blueberry growers are unwilling to pay for such a product without large government subsidies.


The authors argue that the demand for insurance may be affected by the level and the volatility of a berry grower's total revenue. Hence, the authors propose a hybrid expression that assumes a farmer seeks to maximize the total utility function to capture the rational and intuitive parts of a farmer's decision-making process. The EU represents rationality and the prospect value represents the intuitive component. Meanwhile, the authors investigate the possibility of using key weather parameters to construct a berry quality index – one that could be applied to other agricultural areas for studying the relationship between weather conditions and product quality.



This research was funded in part by the Government of Canada under the Canadian Agricultural Partnership's AgriRisk Initiatives Program (Microgrants).


Liu, X., van Kooten, G.C., Gerbrandt, E.M. and Duan, J. (2023), "Prospects for weather-indexed insurance for blueberry growers", Agricultural Finance Review, Vol. 83 No. 2, pp. 333-351.



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