LAGOS – Poor insurance policy has been identified as a major setback to the nation’s food security, Daily Independent has gathered.
Lot of farmers across the country are not pleased with the way insurance companies are been run in this part of the world because they have in one way or the other lost their farm produce due to fire disaster, flooding, theft, draught among others, and there has not been any meaningful response from the companies to relieve them of their loses.
They lamented that insurance companies, which are supposed to provide cover for farmers at such a time do not help issues, as the insurance system put in place does not favour farmers.
Sharing his experience with Daily Independent during a visit to his farm recently, Olusola Olunowo, Managing Director of Agro Park Development Company Limited, a farm management company, which runs an agricultural asset management system with over 2,735 hectares of farmland in Ijale-Orile, Abeokuta, Ogun State, lamented that his farm was first hit by the lockdown and he was not able to sell his farm produce
“Now drought, there is not enough rainfall in most South-West states, which affected the several hectares of maize, rice, cassava, to mention but few.
“While we are trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we decided to face the staple crops because these crops are highly demanded in the country.
“Many people knew that August break would come. We had rain on July 8 and even before then; this year you can count the number of times we had rainfall. I think it rained just six times. Before you can do land preparation, you need heavy rainfall to boost harves. But this year, things are different as the rains came late.
“We did not have rainfall here until mid-April. Then in the first week of July, everything that we planted in April, we were waiting for the harvest. It caught us in the middle of the harvest season and it was really disastrous not only here, many farmers in other South-West states were also affected.”
According to Olunowo, “the Nigerian insurance system is very funny. The insurance system gives you an umbrella when the raining season is gone. There is insurance cover for drought and it is in three stages. If it happens at the planting stage, they will pay you for land preparation and planting; even in the land preparation, they won’t pay you full, they will just pay you for seed and identify some things.
“Then in the middle, they will pay you for maybe first weeding, then if it is for them to cover your return on investments (RoI) and everything, they will pay you when it has fruited. That is also the way they designed the poultry industry. Before you can get anything, your birds would have been at a stage where you could make money. That is the way they structure it, so it is never an insurance cover,” he said.
Also, Wale Oyekoya, Managing Director of Bama Farms Limited stated that the same way banks were sanitised; insurance companies need to be sanitised also.
“The main insurance company of the government is Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC), which does not even come to the aid of the farmers. They know how to collect your premium, when it is for them to pay on the damages they started coming with all kinds of excuses.
Sharing his experience, he said it has happened to him with NAIC, that he never got anything when Avian Flu killed their birds’ years ago.
“Everything boils down to the government, if the government is corrupt, nothing will work and that is exactly what is happening with security, who wants to go to the farm now with the kind of insecurity we have in the country. Are you telling me that the government does not know where all these bandits are, they are shielding the herdsmen but they are not shielding the farmers, and you want farmers to be going to the farms?
“To me the government knows what they are doing, but they don’t want to come out to accept they have failed. But I am telling it to their faces that you people are a failure, if we have all these insecurity that farmers cannot go to their farms, people are not safe in their homes, children are not safe in the school, the government has really failed the nation.
“Lack of insurance is hindering our food security, it is affecting because there is no way disaster will not come; either through disease or through natural disaster and this is where the insurance need to come to the aid of the farmers to recoup their money, but if you run to them, they will be telling you stories.
Citing what happened to the Pig Farm in Oke Aro in late 2019 where farmers lost over 90 percent of their flocks.
“What did the insurance company do, what did the government do? Nothing. Farmers are on their own and we cannot continue like this, to me it is just a game that they are playing.
”The whole thing is going to affect the populace, go to the market now and see the prices of food stuff, we are just deceiving ourselves and I think the governments need to wake up and do the right thing to shield us from starvation,” he added.
Adeola Adegoke, President, Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN) while reacting to the recently ravaged cocoa farm in Ekiti, said these have been a recurring decimal that, that is why there are emphasises that peasant farmers need to be insured, that they need to embrace viable insurance policy.
“That is what we are agitating and imploring the government at all levels to come to the aid of the peasant farmers to create a kind of soft landing in the future. The recurrence of this is for the farmers’ farms to be insured because these are natural disasters and natural disasters are not presentable.
“They are things that normally happen and if you recall in the last 20 years our farmers have been experiencing this kind of tragedy, and there is no assistance from the government at all levels to come to the aid of these vulnerable farmers.
Adegoke further stated that the government should look at the area of insurance, that naturally disasters happen, but when it happens, what did the government do about it?
According to him, “In Ghana today, an average farmer is having a pension. They are moving to those things that would safeguard and protect the interest of peasant farmers. If the government is looking at that to make sure that no farmer is left unsecure to sustain our production, farmers would be highly secured in terms of making sure that they are good.
However, Emmanuel Ijewere, Vice President Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NAGB), stated that insurance is a contract between the person who owns the goods and the insurance company.
“It is what you agreed with the insurance company that they will cover, it is possible they did not include fire as one of the items to be covered by the insurance company, it is a contract that is documented. The insurance company cannot run unilaterally from the contract, you just state clearly what you are insuring if you are insuring against flood, there is flood if you are insuring again fire there is fire, if you are insuring against theft or pest, whatever you are insuring should be listed there,” he said.