Of NAIC’s reforms and agric insurance

Prior to now, the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) has been striving to sensitise the public about its statutory roles in the development of the nation’s agricultural sector through a combination of communication strategies, an initiative which, in the real sense of it, may not have been effective in terms of farmers’ understanding of the message or the purpose of the campaigns.

The low awareness about insurance products and services which millions of small, medium and large scale-holder farmers could use as cover to protect them against risks was not largely due to the fault of the Corporation but the high level of illiteracy and apathy on the part of the farmers, most of whom never knew or believed in the value-addition benefits insurance cover promised for them and the economy.

For instance, before NAIC was established, many Nigerian farmers had suffered unquantifiable losses on their yearly investments on their farms due to inclement weather conditions, vagaries of nature, pests and diseases , floods and fire outbreaks, amongst other threats to nation’s capacity to meet its food needs.

Indeed, the era prior the Corporation’s establishment could be likened to a season of anomie in the nation’s efforts to shield farmers and other stakeholders from the hazards of planting and post-harvest losses which had remained a major concern for government in view of the negative implications for socio-economic growth of the country.

As the entity saddled with the implementation of the national agricultural insurance scheme, which is designed to protect the farmer from the effects of natural hazards through measures that will ensure a prompt payment of appropriate indemnity (compensation) sufficient to keep the farmer in business after suffering a loss, the Corporation had before now been striving to fulfil its mandate, with some success to show for it, against all odds.

However, since 2012 the management of the NAIC had adopted a new strategic approach to insurance campaigns in the agricultural sector by adopting the downto- earth approach strategies to engage farmers and other operators in the sector on the need for them to subscribe to insurance cover.

For instance, the last few months have been characterised by country-wide enlightenment campaigns led by the Managing Director the Corporation, Dr Tijjani Garba, supported by other officials of the Corporation as part of the management’s reform initiatives targeted at deepening agricultural insurance penetration in the country.

In addition to the sensitisation workshops and seminars, the Garba-led management has also been involved in payments of insurance claims to thousands of farmers who suffered losses in the 2012 floods and re-orientating them about how to avert similar hazards in the future or act to mitigate losses through proactive measures if any natural crisis occurs within their domains.

The NAIC boss had a few months ago disclosed that the Corporation had paid over about N500 million to farmers as verified claims to insured farmers who were victims of the 2012 flood crisis in the country even as it assured others whose claims are pending of timely disbursement after the completion of their claim requests.

Garba, who made the disclosure at a sensitisation workshop for extension workers and farmers in Gombe State, urged the farmers and other stakeholders to take advantage of NAIC services in order to protect them losses associated with natural disasters such as floods, draught, pests invasion, amongst others by taking insurance cover for their farm holdings

He urged the farmers to form cooperative associations which will serve as umbrella body for them in order to enable them access loans finance agencies and also facilitate the insurance of their farm holdings by NAIC and prompt payment of claims in the event of losses caused by natural disasters and other incidents but not due to their negligence.

NAIC has not only been intensifying its roles by providing financial support to farmers in the event of losses arising from natural disasters but also facilitating access of bank loans in order to increase the flow of agricultural credit from lending institutions, particularly the Bank of Agriculture (BOA), to the farmers; amongst other intervention strategies.

These and other initiatives have continued to engender farmers and other operators in the agricultural sector belief in the Corporation’s capacity to support them in their efforts to contribute more to the current drive targeted at achieving for security in the country and anchoring the economic diversification agenda of government on the critical sector. As a proof that the agricultural insurance drive is fulfing the purpose it is intended to achieve, farmers across the country have been appreciating the immense agricultural insurance and other sectoral efforts of the NAIC targeted at helping them to avoid losses and even if crisis occurs, the loss will not be total as NAIC will indemnify them.

Thousands of farmers who participated in the Corporation sensitisation workshops across the geo-political zones in the country lauded the management for taking the workshops to the grassroots and availing them the opportunity to understand agricultural insurance and how they can access the products and services being offered by the institution.

Most of the farmers who attended the workshops in Gombe, Asaba, Osogbo and Enugu recently expressed their desire to imbibe the culture of insurance practice and also spoke the workshop in terms of the proper orientation it gave them on the essence and benefits of agricultural insurance cover for farmlands and livestock nationwide.

At the four separate interactive workshops, NAIC’s boss, Garba explained that the workshops were timely to sensitize farmers on the measures to mitigate flood and other natural disasters hampering greater yields and harvests.

He further said that NAIC’s management was reaching out to farmers across the nation with the view to improving their capacity through modern farming management methods, storage and marketing of their produce, using insurance cover to safe guard their investments.

He therefore appealed to farmers at the workshops to avail themselves with the various agricultural insurance policies spearheaded by the Corporation towards minimizing farm loses and risks normally associated with agro-allied businesses.

At Gombe, farmers under the auspices of Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme, appealed to NAIC Management to make its enlightenment drive sustainable and far reaching with the view to reducing public apathy over insurance practice just as All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) in Enugu also commended the corporation for its prompt payment of claims.

Led by the Enugu State Chairman of the AFAN, Chief Silas Eneh, over 300 participants at the workshop appealed to NAIC to compensate all the victims of the 2012 flood disaster, whose farmlands were devastated, leading to huge farm loses by all categories of farmers in the state.

In his response, the NAIC boss explained that the Corporation only paid to insured farmers who were duly covered by NAIC insurance policies, pointing out that it is responsibility of the National Emergency Agency (NEMA) to compensate all those who are victims of natural disasters. Similarly, the representative of Osun State Farmers’ Cooperative Societies, Prince Wale Adebola, appealed to NAIC to open up offices at the local government areas, with a view to making its products and services, available to farmers living outside the urban areas and state capitals.

Adebola explained further that ordinary farmers needed to be carried along in order to give their farmlands the necessary insurance cover against natural disasters prevalent in the country.

During the NAIC delegation’s visit to the Government House, the Chief of Staff to the State Governor, Alhaji Gboyega Oyetola, while commending the Corporation on its enlightenment drive to scale up insurance penetration in the country, assured the management of the State Government’s readiness to partner NAIC in the management of risks associated with farming with a view to mitigating farm loses, leading to huge losses of agro-business investments.

Tijjani commended the State for its consistency in the payment of the mandatory agricultural insurance subsidy over the years and further appealed to the Government to expedite the payment of the outstanding subsidy of about N5.5million for the 2012 farming season.

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