By Emeka Nwokocha
As public financing of agriculture and promoting of food security take centre-stage in global affairs, a study by ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) has identified gaps in the operations of the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), noting that not much impact has been made by NAIC as Smallholder Women Farmers (SHWF) has extreme low access to the government initiated agricultural insurance scheme.
The report of the study was unveiled by Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC), in Asaba, on Thursday 13 August, 2020.
The study, which was conducted between 2014 and 2018 by AAN, chronicled the operations of NAIC and identified prominent indicators affirming low performance of the scheme in the years under review. It noted that access to the Government Agricultural Insurance Services (GAI), including, adequacy, appropriateness, usefulness, timeliness, affordability; and impact of the scheme on farmers livelihood were extremely low.
The study also identified critical challenges in the agriculture sector to include: low awareness and knowledge of SHWF about GAI scheme; poor funding on the part of government; delays in banks remittal of farmers premium; illiteracy factor on the part of SHWF; non coverage of agriculture products destroyed by cattle in the GAI scheme; and negative perception of the public about insurance.
While presenting the report to stakeholders in the agriculture sector comprising the Ministry of Agriculture, NIAC, SWOFON, CSOs and Media, the Senior Programme Officer at ENVIRUMEDIC, Mr. Lucky Enegide, implored the stakeholders to adopt the recommendations of the report in strengthening their planning and decision making process to ensure that all farmers leverage the agricultural insurance scheme to enhance productivity and their wellbeing.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Eugene and Mr. Zion Bobi from the Ministry of Agriculture, applauded the report, stating that the recommendations that were made in Abuja during the validation of the AAN’s study were fully adopted by the report. They promised that the Ministry would adopt the report in their operations.
Mrs. Awodu Mary of NAIC, thanked ENVIRUMEDIC for making the report available to stakeholders, even as she commended ActionAid Nigeria for undertaking the study. Continuing, she promised that NAIC would continue to provide its services to farmers in Delta State. She implored farmers to leverage the opportunity NAIC provides to insure their crops against unforseen losses resulting from nature caused disaster.
Speaking for the CSOs, Mr. Fred Nohwo, described the study as a welcome development, saying that the report was quite comprehensive and informative. He expressed hope that the Delta State agriculture sector would experience a quantum growth if the recommendations of the study would be deligently implemented.
In the same vein, Mrs. Ezenweani Celestina, representative of the Small-Scale Holder Women Farmers in Delta State, thanked ActionAid Nigeria for its contribution to development of agriculture in Delta State and Nigeria. She noted that revamping the agricultural insurance scheme would have positive impact on farmers’ productivity.
The following recommendations were proffered by the study towards revamping the GAI services to meet its objectives: aggressive execution of awareness creation about GAI scheme within rural communities in Nigeria; ensuring that SHWF are fully involved in the design and planning of GAI services; and increased budgetary allocation to agricultural insurance, and SHWF; and the need for more effective collaboration between major stakeholders of the agricultural sector.