By OKEY NDIRIBE
The Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC) has revealed that N182 million has so far been paid as insurance claims to farmers whose crops were damaged by last year’s flood which affected many parts of the country.
This was disclosed by the Managing Director of NAIC, Dr. Tijani Garba, when members of the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development paid an oversight visit to the corporation.
Dr. Garba stated that claims were only paid to farmers who insured their crops with the Corporation, emphasising that NAIC’s role differed from that of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).
Giving a deeper insight into the challenges presently faced by the Corporation, Dr. Garba said some of those who were backed by NAIC to collect loans from banks have not been repaying their debts, adding that some of them were powerful people in the country.
Throwing more light on the type of insurance premium charged by NAIC, the Corporation’s MD said interested farmers normally paid 50 percent of the premium, while the relevant states and Federal Government were responsible for payment of the remaining 50 percent.
However, he expressed regret that many state governments have not been paying their own part of the farmers’ premium.
Commenting on budgetary allocation to the Corporation, he lamented that only N32 million of the N258 appropriated for NAIC in 2013 has been released.
He asserted that one of the Corporation’s major challenges is how to get the states to pay their own part of the farmers insurance premium as NAIC now heavily depend on this source of revenue in the face of irregular release of funds by the Federal Government.
In his own submission, a Director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. M. O. Azeez, stated that the approved constituency projects in the 2013 budget could not be executed by Rural Access Mobility Project (RAMP) due to a directive from the Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Adewunmi Adesina, indicating that only the Minister of Special Duties, Hon. Turaki Ibrahim, has been authorised to carry out the assignment.
He further stated that farmers across the country now have access to agricultural inputs since most of them were registered during the nation-wide registration exercise carried out by the ministry, adding that many Chinese experts were already in different parts of the country training Nigerians in different aspects of agriculture.
Throwing more light on the activities of RAMP, the National Coordinator, RAMP, Engr. Ubandoma Ularamu, said the agency was set up to identify and execute rural projects that would touch the lives of rural dwellers. He cited as example, a project executed by RAMP in Kaduna State with a total of $72 million. He said that the state government contributed $12 million towards the completion of project, while the Federal Government and the World Bank provided $60 million.
Engr. Ubandoma further stated that another project that was executed in Cross River State was the rehabilitation of 474 kilometers of rural roads with the sum of N21.6 billion, adding that the state and Federal Government executed the project together with the African Development Bank, AfDB.
The tempo of commercial agriculture in Kwara State is set to receive a boost through a proposed N2billion funding window to be actualised by the Bank of Agriculture and the State Government.
Presenting the proposal to the Governor of Kwara State, Dr Abdulfatah Ahmed, the Managing Director of the bank, Dr Muhammed Santuraki, said if the Kwara State Government accepts the proposal, the bank would provide its N1bn counterpart fund to jumpstart the scheme.
Dr Santuraki explained that the collaborative fund would provide lending support to commercial farmers, youth and women in agriculture and other value chain outlets.