Lead paper presenters at the 2018 agricultural symposium organised by the agricultural group of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry have advocated scaling up of risk mitigation through insurance, funding and industrialisation of agriculture as essentials of food security as the population growth in the country increases.
Chairman of the agric group of the LCCI, Mr Tunji Falade, said Nigeria ought to prepare to feed the exploding population by growing more food, processing more food and encouraging more investments in food production business.
Nigeria is an agrarian country blessed with almost 90 million hectares of arable land and abundant human resources, having more than a fair share of resources to grow and process foods.
Calling for more funding, Falade likened the relationship between farmers and financial institutions to the one between the United States of America and North Korea.
He called on farmers to embrace new technologies and improved seedlings to get maximum yields and returns.
Head of Agricultural Business, Union Bank, Mr Olawale Olanrewaju, representing the managing director of the bank, said agriculture faces competition from other sectors of the economy when it comes to financing.
Financial institutions would always want to advance loan facilities to sectors with lowest risks and highest integrity; sectors with people who understand their businesses and what to do when the chips are down; and sectors that operate profitably and have the history of paying regularly.
The banks, Olanrewaju added, have the utmost responsibility to protect people’s deposits, and it is a risky step lending depositors’ funds to sectors without the said criteria.
Banks want collateral security as required by the law as a formality, but they are more interested in good businesses that are more dependable than collaterals, he said, advising the farmers to tidy up their businesses and make them less risky. He harped on education and personal development of farmers.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) boss, Mrs Folashade Joseph, advised farmers to take advantage of the coverage provided by NAIC to minimize risks associated with farming.
The coverage includes crop production, livestock, area yield, combined produce and investment insurance, fishing nets and boats cover, marine cargo, fire and burglary, farm assets, goods-in-transits and motor vehicle insurance.
The corporation, she added, has the agricultural coverage worth over N1 trillion and has paid over N2 billion as claims in different value chains.
The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending PLC claimed that its purpose is to bridge the gap between farmers and lenders by de-risking and guaranteeing agricultural facilities.