Rodrigo Garcia

2016 Cheng Fellow

Problem

Climate change has made agricultural outcomes significantly more uncertain. In poorer regions, the impacts of climate variability on agriculture have meaningful and long lasting effects in wealth, as well as in human and physical capital accumulation. Climate insurance is the mechanism to increase resilience and reduce income volatility among farmers. However low quality of historical climate data has made insurance services for smallholders farmers too costly. The cost associated to weather measurement uncertainty is called basis risk, and is why less than 3% of the 2.3 people who rely on rain-fed agriculture are protected by climate insurance.

Pathway

Building an innovative way of creating climate insurance will reduce developing countries farmers’ income volatility. Rodrigo founded OKO, a company aimed at leveraging new technology to bring climate insurance to developing countries. OKO relies on the generation of real time weather data extracted from cell-phone tower infrastructure, along with recent developments in climate science modelling and machine learning techniques. OKO is able to measure climate risks on a very local scale. This way, they are able to reduce the costs of delivering climate insurance in places where historical weather information has poor geographical and historical coverage.
OKO is currently piloting a light version of this solution in Santa Cruz, Bolivia and plans to launch and test our product with 500 initial customer

Person

Born and raised in Bolivia, Rodrigo obtained a MPA-ID at the Harvard Kennedy School. He is the Founder of OKO and aims to create solutions that improve people’s life. Rodrigo dreams of a world where opportunities for farmers are expanded, particularly for small-holder farmers in developing countries. Rodrigo has been involved in a number of initiatives seeking to address complex challenges to local development. In 2012, he was part of the team that created a public private partnership with the National Institute for Agricultural Insurance to carry out a pilot of an index-based agricultural insurance policy, in one of the poorest municipalities in Bolivia. At the Inter-American Development Bank Rodrigo conducted research aimed at providing lessons for the design and implementation of public policies on natural disasters and climate change adaptation.