The “Seeing is Believing” project aims to deliver personalized agricultural advice and insurance services to smallholder farmers in India.


This project delivers personalized agricultural advice and insurance services to smallholder farmers across several sites in India. The project’s dedicated smartphone application uses farmers’ own smartphone pictures of visible crop characteristics—“eyes on the ground”—to optimize agronomic decision-making and claims settlement. Through the app, farmers submit geotagged, time-stamped pictures of insured sites from sowing to harvest. In response, they receive timely and relevant agriculture advisories and improved insurance claims settlements.

Estimated number of active users:

  • At inception: 1179
  • At time of last report: 4000

Evidence of impact

– The advisory messages increased knowledge on best agricultural practices by 78% and revealed strong complementarities between PBA (personalized, picture-based advisory) and PBI (picture-based insurance)
– India’s Department of Agriculture Cooperation and Farmers Welfare is currently partnering with IFPRI to test the approach for India’s national crop insurance scheme
– 1 article titled, “Monitoring crop phenology using a smartphone based near-surface remote sensing approach” was published by the team in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.
– 1 article titled, “The feasibility of picture-based insurance (PBI): Smartphone pictures for affordable crop insurance,” was published by the team in Development Engineering.
– 1 article titled, “Impacts of a national lockdown on smallholder farmers’ income and food security: Empirical evidence from two states in India” was published by the team in World Development, with a companion blog:

Disruptions to smallholders’ incomes and food security during a national lockdown: Evidence from two crop insurance trials in India

– 1 article titled, “From Index to Indemnity Insurance using Farmers’ Ground Pictures: The Demand for Picture-Based Crop Insurance” was published as an IFPRI Discussion Paper
– 1 needs assessment, titled “Digital technologies for financial inclusion of smallholder farmers: Needs assessment in three states of India” was published as an IFPRI project note.

➥ Economic impact: 

Increased yield, Reduced production cost

➥ Environmental impact: 

I do not know

➥ Social impact: 

I do not know

➥ Technical impact: 

Increased technology adoption, Better support for extension agents

➥ Impact on overall efficiency

Increased efficiency by 0-25%