Reviving Nigeria’s Bank of Agriculture for allied industries

Head of Agro-Economy, FEMI IBIROGBA, takes a look at the history of the Bank of Agriculture, its mandate and the realities of inefficiency, failures and unmet expectations as Nigeria needs more food to feed the growing population, cut down on importation and create more job opportunities with industrialisation of crops.

Credit is one of the fundamental inputs for sustainable food production, crop value chain development, food distribution and food security, but access to agricultural financing is impaired in the country, with aversion on the part of commercial and other conventional financial institutions for the sector.

And, it appears hope is lost on the efforts to reposition Nigeria’s Bank of Agriculture (BoA) as the bank crawls in performing its core mandates when private financial institutions are revving up in meeting the 21st Century financial requirements of businesses.

As of now, the bank goes the way of the old National Electric Power Authority (NEPA), Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL) and Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), just to mention a few, losing touch with the reality of the food cultivation and processing industry, and appears totally incapacitated to deliver its mandates.

The bank is a specialised development financial institution which philosophical motive has been eroded. There are three main schools of thought on the philosophical motives behind the establishment of development banks.

The industrial policy view stipulates such banks are established as a reaction to failures of capital markets to raise funds for entrepreneurship and industrial activities (Armendáriz de Aghion 1999, Gerschenkron 1962).

The social school sees development banks as a government intervention to resolve certain socio-economic issues, such as unemployment, lack of housing, energy dependency, among others (Shapiro and Willig 1990, Shirley 1989).

The political school views development banks as tools serving the interest of political elite’s objectives or as conduits pipes for gratifying industrialists who are politically involved or serving politician’s interest through their cronies (Ades and Di Tella 1997, Shleifer and Vishny 1994).

From all indications, BoA is serving the political motive, and it contributes insignificantly to the agro-allied sector. This is one of the reasons experts have called consistently for its revamp through a public-private partnership (PPP) and other strategies.

The bank history
THE bank was incorporated as the Nigerian Agricultural Bank (NAB) in 1972, became functional in 1973 and in1978, it metamorphosed into Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank (NACB) Limited.

The Federal Government streamlined the operations of its agencies in October 2001, and the NACB, People’s Bank of Nigeria (PBN) and the Family Economic Advancement Programme (FEAP) were merged, adopting yet another name, Nigerian Agricultural, Co-operative Rural Development Bank (NACRDB) Limited. It was expected to serve as an agricultural and rural development bank with multiplier effects on rural life improvement and economic empowerment.

In October 2010, it was renamed as the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) Limited with the following accurately defined but terribly implemented mandates.

The mandates include the provision of agricultural credit to support all agricultural value chain activities; provision of non-agricultural micro-credit savings mobilization; capacity development through the promotion of co-operatives, agricultural information systems, and the provision of technical support and extension services; provision of opportunities for self-employment in the rural areas, thereby reducing rural-urban migration and inculcation of banking habits at the grass-roots of the Nigerian society.

THE strength areas of the bank include being the largest development finance institution and leading agricultural finance institution, no matter how moribund it has become. With 201 outlets nationwide, six zonal offices and a head office in Abuja, the structure is already laid, but grossly underutilised, hence, its inability to achieve the mandate.

The bank has the highest national interaction/interface with rural farmers, with institutional knowledge of rural and agricultural finance with its over 40 years of existence. Various partners at one time or the other include the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID), IFAD, World Banks and ECOWAS, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, State and Local Governments.

Its mission is “To stimulate agriculture, improve lives and grow communities,” with a vision “To become the foremost self-sustaining Development Finance Institution in Africa.” However, the performance of the bank in an era when Nigeria re-emphasises agriculture as the base of a diversified economy has been abysmal, as farmers wave aside its contribution to the food production sector.

Under its Direct Credit Product, designed to finance agricultural productions and agro-allied activities, BoA said farmers and others could obtain “Loan [that] ranges from above N250,000 to a maximum of N50,000,000, with a limit of N5,000,000 to individual persons and above N5,000,000 to corporate organisations.

It adds that: “Loan tenor not exceeding five years, disbursement both cash and kind, backed up with viable, profitable and bankable business proposals.”

It also indicates that “Interest rate is 14% for agricultural production and agro-processing, while commodity marketing is 20%,” and to access such facilities, “Current tax clearance certificate is required and last three years audited statements of account or statement of affairs is required. Consent to a mortgage of the landed property being pledged as security for the loan requirements.”

Under the Large Credit Product, the bank indicates that it is developed to finance large agricultural production and agro-allied activities, and that loan volume ranges from above 50 million to a maximum of 1 billion for a single obligor. Interest rate, it adds, “is 14% for agricultural production and agro-processing while marketing is 20%.”

But the majority of the large-scale farmers have described the bank as dysfunctional, saying it is easier to get loans in commercial banks than from it.

Organisational structure and market engagement
CaNvassing re-engineering of the bank, an Agriculture Regional Manager of an old-generation bank, who prefers anonymity, said: “The Bank of Agriculture should be restructured along functional lines to capture business strata of the economy albeit … retail, MSME, commercial and corporate businesses.”

He also suggested that retail business should focus on primary production engaging smallholder farmers and livestock farming.

The agriculture financing banker said for BOA to succeed in its roles in national development and diversification of the economy, its present operating structure, ownership, capital base, market engagement strategy, funding sources, strategic partnerships and banking technologies must be revamped and strengthened to meet the realities of the emerging order and the requirements of its focus market, the agribusiness community.

The agric. banking specialist said: “BOA, as is currently structured, with complete dependence on the government funding for shareholder capital and a minimal attraction to the organised private sector and the banking public as a source of liability generation (which should be the main source of capital for financial intermediation, while shareholders’ funds serve as a buffer) cannot support the purpose of the agricultural revolution that is required to move the Nigerian economy forward.

“Fortunately, extant banking regulations and provisions are available to support certain thoughts in “unbundling” the bank for greater efficiency.”

In an interview with The Guardian on May 27, 2019, former Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, had said the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) had completed its work on the privatization and re-engineering of the bank. But the Public Relations Officer of BoA, Adebayo Fasakin, while reacting to an inquiry about the privatization move, said it had been “put on hold,” saying he would contact the Acting Managing Director, Mr Alwan Hassan, and get back to The Guardian. However, as of press time on Sunday, he did not respond.

Audu Ogbeh had disclosed that: “The lead consultant has now taken up the responsibility of marketing the idea to the public and when that happens, we will begin to sell shares. The idea is that farmers will own 40 per cent of the shares of the bank; the CBN will hold 10 per cent; the Ministry of Finance 10 per cent; and the private sector operators, 30 per cent.”

Ogbeh had explained that “farmers should see BoA as their bank, put their money in it because we are trying to raise between N200 and N250 billion for the bank so that farmers can borrow at five per cent [interest rate].

“As long as the bank makes enough money to pay their staff, there is no point overcharging farmers. We think in another two months or so, the sale of shares should be done.”

Alas! the only change in the bank, for now, is the appointment of an acting managing director.

Experts have, however, said running the bank like a civil service establishment, with the Federal Government paying salaries and pensions, would only perpetuate incompetence, underperformance, corruption and near-zero contribution to the agro-economic development of the country.


CBN suspends importation of maize

A day after a PREMIUM TIMES report showed that Nigeria’s maize importation failed to decline in two years despite farmers saying they can meet local demand, the Central Bank of Nigeria has stopped the issuance of forex for the importation of the cereal.

The CBN made this known on Monday in a circular signed by O.S. Nnaji, its director, Trade and Exchange Department.

The decision, according to CBN, is to boost local production of maize.

“As part of effort by the Central Bank of Nigeria to increase local production, stimulate a rapid economic recovery, safeguard rural livelihoods and increase job, which were lost as a result of the ongoing Covid-19 Pandemic, Authorized dealers are hereby directed to discontinue the processing of Form M for the importation of maize/corn with immediate effect,” CBN said in the memo.

Form M is a mandatory document used by the Ministry of Finance and the CBN to monitor goods that are imported into the country as well as enable collection of import duties where applicable.

The bank, however, asked the dealers to still submit the already registered forms.

“Accordingly, all authorized dealers are hereby requested to submit the list of Form M already registered for the importation of maize/corn using the attached format on or before the close of business on Wednesday 15, 2020,” CBN said.

Data obtained from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that Nigeria imported 400,000 tons of maize in 2019 as it did in 2018.

That figure, recorded separately in both years, is the second-highest maize import volume for the country since 2009.

The highest was recorded in 2016 when 650,000 tons of maize was imported by the country.

Since its introduction to Africa in the 1500s, maize has become one of Africa’s dominant food crops.

Nigeria is Africa’s top producer of maize, followed by Tanzania, according to the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture. But the country is also a leading importer as demand for animal feed grows in the country.

Nigeria’s annual need for maize is estimated at 15 million metric tons while the country’s local production is 10.5million tons.

According to Edwin Uche, the national chairman of Maize Growers and Processors Association of Nigeria (MAGPAN), he told PREMIUM TIMES that maize farmers in Nigeria can produce enough maize needed in the country if the government supports them with more incentives.

“We are capable of producing the needed quantity of maize in the country if the government can place a ban on maize importation and provide us with the necessary incentives such as financial aids, loans, fertilizer among others,” Mr Uche said.

Also, according to Abraham Godson, a former research supervisor at IITA, Ibadan, continuous importation of agricultural commodities like maize can weaken the country’s economy.

“It is sad that we still import many of the agricultural produce that we produce locally. This leads to the continued depreciation of the naira and in turn weakening of the economy and our international purchasing power. More efforts should be made at changing our economy and especially the agricultural sector from a consumption-oriented to export-oriented,” Mr Godson said.

“A new strategic policy is urgently needed to reverse this trend. It should be geared towards modernizing agriculture through supply of agricultural machinery to farmers, improved seeds, agrochemicals to farmers, and a nationwide capacity building and training for those involved in agriculture,” he added.

The CBN on June 23 during the flag-off of 2020 wet season maize farming in Delta State expressed its readiness to support about 200,000 maize farmers across the country to boost maize production.

The plan, according to CBN, is to support maize farmers with 166,000 farming inputs that will lead to the production of a minimum of 4 tons of maize in a hectare of land.

The bank said it would do more next season if farmers deliver.

Nigeria: Digital Economy – NITDA Adopts 130 Farmers, Disburses Funds to Beneficiaries

In its move to digitise agricultural sector, the National Information Technology Agency (NITDA), under the supervision of Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, has adopted 130 farmers into the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) programme.

The initiative, according the agency, will provide Nigerian farmers with means to showcase their farm produce in the digital world market.

The project, piloted in Jigawa State, was initiated to systematically adopt farmers across the 774 Local Government Areas of the country in order to support and equip them with necessary skills that will make Nigeria one of the leading nations in digital farming.

A total of 130 beneficiaries drawn from 27 Local Government Areas of Jigawa State were trained and also provided with smart devices, Internet connectivity, seed fund worth N100,000 and certified seed during the official closing ceremony of the event that was held both physically and virtually.

The governor of Jigawa State, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar who attended the ceremony virtually, appreciated the vision of the Minister for bringing the project to the state and promised to ensure its sustainability.

He also cautioned the beneficiaries against misuse of the materials and knowledge impacted on them. He maintained that the state, in the last few years has produced a lot of millionaires through rice farming precisely.

“Jigawa State will remain grateful for being chosen to pilot this project that will alleviate poverty as well as make the farmers independent in their lives.”

He thanked the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, NITDA, and other partners for finding his state worthy to kick-start this laudable project.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, while delivering his special address, said that there is need to come up with innovative ideas that will promote smart agriculture in Nigeria as a means of diversifying the nation’s economy, adding that Nigeria is blessed with a large fertile landmass.

The minister noted that the National Adopted Village for Smart Agriculture (NAVSA) is part of the main policy of the National Digital Economy policy and strategy for a Digital Nigeria launched and unveiled by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the best way to improve the output in the agricultural sector in Nigeria is through the deployment of emerging technologies.

While delivering his welcome address, Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Abdullahi, said that the goal of NAVSA is to build digital capabilities and innovations across agriculture value chains aimed at creating massive jobs and improve the income and wealth of every ecosystem player. According to him, currently in Nigeria, agriculture hires about 70% of the workforce.

He said NITDA, together with Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, conceived the idea of introducing digital platform for farmers, in order to carry them along in Digital Economy journey spearheaded by the minister.

Mr Abdullahi stated that, NAVSA is designed to take small scale farmers to commercial level using a performance-based approach. The project targets graduates (between the age of 20 to 35 years) with prerequisite knowledge to participate in AgricTech project.

“There is need for farmers to join this journey towards realisation of Dr Pantami’s dream to digitise Nigeria, and this is in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s promise to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next few years. We believe this can only be achieved through innovations, which technology plays a vital role in terms of jobs and wealth creation,” he said.

He added that NAVSA will enhance digital agriculture strategy, and support Federal Government policy by taking advantage of the growing youth population which constitutes over 50 per cent of the estimated 200 million population; farmers owned an estimated 82 million hectares of arable land, of which according to a research, only 42 per cent is being productively utilised. There are about 126 Million active internet users, 72 Million broadband subscription and 37.8% broadband penetration with 70% target by 2025.

Many dignitaries attended the event, virtually, in line with the guidelines on COVID-19 by the Presidential Task Force (PTF) and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), to ensure agricultural activities are not badly affected, as directed by the President.

Nigeria: Promoting Agriculture Production Through ICT

According to FAO, agriculture remains the largest sector of the Nigerian economy and employs two-thirds of the entire labour force. Production hurdles have much stifled the performance of the sector. Agriculture is increasingly becoming knowledge-intensive and millions of smallholder farmers around the world are confronted by constraints such as poor access to farm input, funding, poor road network, lack of storage facilities, markets and financial services, low levels of human capital, poor access to education and weak information flows. With missing markets, low skills and weak capacity, agriculture across the developing world will have to overcome a number of challenges in the future and with current world with food insecurity looming.

The Food and Agriculture Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, estimates that more than 860 million people in the world today suffer from hunger including Nigeria. Utilization of Information and communications technology (ICT) can ease access to prompt and correct information for an improved agricultural production. ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, mobile phones, computers and network hardware and software, satellite systems, and so on.

We are in a world where technology is everything. Access to information is crucial to smallholder farmers. In Nigeria, 85 percent of the farmers are smallholder farmers with great numbers of women that are greatly contributing in production of highly diversified products, and limited access to productive resources.

World population is expected to surpass the nine billion mark by 2050, and agricultural production will need to increase by 60 percent. ICT applications can make significant contribution to meet this future global and national food needs. Information and communication technology can do so by collecting and sharing timely and accurate information on weather, inputs, markets, and prices; by feeding information into research and development initiatives; by promoting farmers cluster, by disseminating knowledge to farmers; by connecting producers and consumers, by connecting farmers and their target, and through many other avenues.

Creating the enabling environment for rural ICT connectivity through sound policies and strategies and ensuring thereby affordable and quality access to the technologies, especially in rural areas, will support smooth exchange of agricultural information for smallholders’ farms. ICT strategies and platforms that increase involvement of farmers’ organizations in policy development, policy debates, and influencing policy implementation have to be promoted.

Information and communication technologies especially mobile applications are playing key role in facilitating access to these resources by the farmers living in rural areas. With the increasing penetration of mobile phones in remote parts of Nigeria, efforts should then be made to strengthen the innovative use of mobile technologies by smallholder farmers. Combination of mobile technology and geographic information system offer correct, specific/micro information of farm activities, soil, water, nutrient, food safety tracking, etc., on farmers’ field for decision making.


UN agency, AUN distribute farm inputs to 100 farmers

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in partnership with American University of Nigeria (AUN), has distributed farm inputs to 100 farmers in Yobe State.

The inputs included tonnes of fertiliser, insecticides and knapsack sprayers to prevent pre and post-harvest losses.

While inaugurating the distribution at the weekend in Damaturu, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Dr Mairo Amshi, disclosed that “the distribution of farm inputs to 100 farmers in Yobe State was to commence this year’s planting season.

“The UNHCR and AUN also targets 450 farmers across the state to restore their means of livelihood destroyed during the decade-long Boko Haram insurgency.”

She said the state government was also to distribute tonnes of fertiliser and other farm inputs to 33,000 small-scale farmers.

The delay in distribution was caused by the ministry’s inconclusive elimination of fertiliser merchants and middlemen in the distribution channels, she said.

“We’ve to identify genuine farmers with collaboration of their traditional leaders to check diversion of farm inputs,” she said.

She assured that the state government would commence distribution of fertiliser to farmers soon, and that 33,000 small-scale farmers had been registered for the distribution for the season.

While speaking on distribution, she said: “We’ve identified their locations in various communities, including their phone numbers and other verification exercises to distribute fertiliser and other farm inputs. We have screened them to be sure they are genuine and practicing farmers.”

According to her, the screening exercise was to eliminate middle men in the distribution of fertiliser and other farm inputs.


Agriculture, Still Room for Improvement as Sector Grew by 2.2% YoY in Q1 2020

The latest national accounts show that the agriculture sector grew by 2.2% y/y in Q1 2020, compared with 2.5% recorded in the previous quarter. Crop production accounted for 88% of agriculture GDP and grew by 2.4 y/y. We also note that the forestry and fisheries segments grew by 1.7% y/y and 1.5% y/y respectively, but each from a low base. Over the past eight quarters, agriculture has grown by an average of 2.1% y/y. The ongoing pandemic (Covid-19) has resulted in supply chain disruptions, particularly across the food sector which has a direct link with agriculture.

The temporary lockdown in some states across Nigeria has harmed farming activities as well as the distribution of agricultural products. Transport restrictions have impeded farmers’ access to markets, resulting in upward price adjustments of farm produce such as rice.

Over the past six months, there have been steady upticks in the rate of food inflation. The latest report from the NBS shows that in May food price inflation was 15.04% y/y. The highest increases were recorded in meat, oils and fats, tubers, bread, cereals, potatoes, fruits and vegetables.

The CBN’s anchor borrowers’ program (ABP), launched in 2015, has supported increased agricultural output. The CBN has disbursed about N190bn in loans under the ABP since its inception. Through the ABP total loans worth N432bn are expected to be disbursed to 1.1 million farmers across the country.

To combat the current economic headwinds, the CBN has rolled out stimulus measures including a reduction in interest rates from 9% to 5% on its existing intervention programs (ABP inclusive) over the next year.

In June the CBN announced plans to fund 1.6 million farmers in the 2020 wet season across the country. This scheme falls within the ABP. The director in the CBN’s Development Finance Department disclosed that cotton farmers would also be included. As at last month, at least 250,000 such farmers had been identified for this initiative.

The general assumption is that better access to credit would enhance the agricultural value chain. However, farmers are urged to take loan repayments seriously so as to give room for new debtors within this scheme in 2021.

Agriculture has benefited from several FGN interventions. However, there seems to be a misalignment when we consider the investment injected into the sector and the sluggish pace of growth exhibited. Notwithstanding, steady investment will assist with repositioning agriculture as a backbone for the economy.

The heavy reliance on one commodity for its export earnings has resulted in significant macroeconomic slippage for Nigeria. Agriculture provides an opportunity for revenue diversification. According to the Nigeria Export Promotion Council, agricultural exports have the potential to generate US$30bn per annum.


Ekiti Govt, CBN to Empower 1,000 Cassava Farmers

The Ekiti State Government in partnership with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has entered into partnership to empower 1,000 farmers in the state for commercial production of cassava.

For smooth take off of the cassava model farming, the state Governor, Kayode Fayemi, has released over 6,000 hectares of land to the Nigeria Cassava Growers’ Association, Ekiti State chapter.

Speaking while flagging off the programme in Ado Ekiti yesterday, Fayemi, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Folorunso Olabode, said the cassava production value chain would help in propelling industrial development in the state.

Fayemi said the government had secured a sum of N1.9 billion to prepare lands across various locations in the state to encourage farming for massive employment and availability of raw materials for agro allied industries.

“The value chain in cassava is inestimable. It has over 50 products. Cassava had graduated from the Garri to high grade starch, syrup, flakes, Fufu paste, cassava bread, biofuel. In fact it has transformed into a golden crop that can transform any economy.

“The Fayemi administration has been rendering helps to farmers. It has encouraged the siting of cassava mill at Ipao Ekiti, which is producing 350 metric tons of cassava daily.

“Dangote and Stallone Rice Mills are doing great in rice production. The production plants had been installed. About 1,500 hectares of land has been prepared across the state to boost food production with close to N2billion to be spent on land clearing that will help the farmers.

“The government has also facilitated about 6,000 bags of fertilizers that were sold to farmers at a subsidised rate. The fact that Ekiti is one of the five pilot states shows that our efforts were being noticed at the national level.”

Fayemi said the state played a prominent role in the formation of the Western Nigeria Security Network codenamed Amotekun, to end the destruction of farmlands by marauding herders.

On its own, the CBN Branch Controller in Ekiti State, Alhaji Ganiyu Atobatele, described agriculture as the largest employer of labour in the country, saying no effort must be spared to revamp the sector and return it as the mainstay of the economy.

The CBN Chief regretted that the discovery of crude oil caused a major setback for the agriculture sector in Nigeria.

“The inability to meet our agricultural local demands has affected our foreign reserves and foreign exchange causing free fall of our currency in the international market.

“The CBN is protecting the cassava value chain. The MOU signed included land utilisation which specified five hectares per farmer for higher production and to increase annual revenue and generate raw materials for industrial development. “The CBN will also make credit available to farmers under the ‘five star’ cassava project,” he stated.


Royal Exchange Creates Awareness on Agric Insurance

Royal Exchange General Insurance Company (REGIC) recently held series of agriculture insurance Webinar aimed at increasing the awareness and perception of agriculture insurance in Nigeria.

The underwriting firm, used the forum to educate members of the public on how agriculture insurance could impact positively on the business of farmers, agro-processors, agro-preneurs and other stakeholders in the value chain.

The four-part webinar anchored by the Head, Agribusiness and Business Development of REGIC, Mr. Chukwuma Kanu, looked at the various aspects of the agriculture industry in Nigeria and the role insurance plays in developing and deepening access to financial services to operators in the agricultural sector.

The first in the virtual agric insurance seminar series titled, “How Farmers can leverage on Agriculture Insurance to de-risk their business during COVID19 Pandemic Times,” witnessed paper presentation by Kalu and Royal Exchange’s Agric Insurance technical consultant, Mr. Agrotosh Mookeej, a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries, UK and Managing Director, Risk Shield Consulting Actuary, Zimbabwe.

The second edition looked at agriculture insurance as a key driver of inclusive finance for farmers, agribusiness SMEs and agro-processors in Nigeria.

This, looked at the concept of inclusive finance to farmers and the role of insurance in supporting farming operations, as well as crowd-funding requirements in raising capital for farming in Nigeria.
The third webinar was on the Ginger value-chain and explained how weather index insurance (WII) could be used to protect businesses and livelihoods.

The company, held the third edition of the seminar in conjunction with the GIZ Nigerian Competitiveness Project (NICOP), a partnership between the German Government, the European Union and the federal government.

The fourth and last in the series, to herald the start of the planting season, focused on using agriculture insurance to digitise farming operations and featured Agritask (REGIC’s technology partners, based in Tel Aviv, Israel) as well as representatives from the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) and Royal Exchange General Insurance.

Speaking on the reason for the webinars, Managing Director/Chief Executive, REGIC, Benjamin Agili, said, “these agriculture insurance webinar is the company’s way of expanding the frontiers of agriculture insurance adoption in Nigeria, making it easier to be understood and accepted by farmers, agro-processors, agro-preneurs, farming cooperatives, off-takers and other stakeholders nationwide.

“Our goal at REGIC is to deepen agriculture insurance penetration and understanding about the values and usefulness of insurance to all Nigerians. Recall that REGIC was among the first three insurance companies to obtain NAICOM approval for WII and we have also recently obtained approval for livestock, poultry and fish farming insurance which is already being taken up by livestock farmers in the country.”


COVID-19 : Nigeria distributes free seeds, fertilizers, to Kogi farmers

As part effort to ensure food production is not affected by the devastating effect of COVID-19 and ensure a more sustainable and resilient food system in the country, the Nigerian Government Thursday handed over farm inputs to Kogi state farmers.

Minister of Agriculture Sabo Nanono, while Speaking during the flag-off ceremony at the Ministry’s Warehouse at Okene road, Kogi State, said the distribution of the free agricultural inputs to smallholder farmers was to enhance food production, create employment and enable farmers to recover quickly from sudden shocks of the COVID-19 Pandemic as well as sustain food supply in 2021.

The Minister noted that “the decision of the Ministry to support the smallholder farmers with various inputs especially improved seeds of some priority crops namely; cashew, sesame, soybeans and potatoes through farmer associations, women and youth groups and cooperatives nationwide is to avert food scarcity in the country as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Part of the free inputs distributed to the farmers included 38,142KG of improved cashew seeds for distribution to 3,798 of cashew farmers across the country for the 2020 cropping season.”

Others included 27,000kg of certified sesame seeds to about 5,400 sesame farmers, 50,000kg of soybeans seeds for to soybeans farmers and 12,000 bundles of Orange Fleshed Sweet Potato (OFSP) for 1,200 farmers, 15,000 sachets of red force, 3,000 sachets of glory crop protection, 580 litres of soil amender and 500 litres of organic fertilizer to potato farmers.”

He disclosed that while the ministry is providing the seeds to the farmers free, other inputs are given at 75% subsidy.”

He stressed that “in our input distribution efforts, at least 35% of the inputs are targeted at women and youth farmers in line with the targets set in our National Gender Action Plan for Agriculture and Policies aimed at ensuring increased opportunities for women. This has been communicated to the Farmer Associations accordingly.”

In his remarks, Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, represented by the deputy governor, Edward Onoja, thanked the President Muhammadu Buhari for the diversification of THE economy of the country with robust Agricultural policies, which would ensure food security and increase the revenue of the nation.

In her vote of thanks, Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Mrs Karima Babangida, appreciated the Kogi State Government and other Relevant Stakeholders for their collaboration with the policies of the Ministry in mitigation of the effects of COVID – 19 Pandemic in Nigeria.


Oyo farmers get subsidised inputs as Makinde wants transfer of dam

Various smallholder farmers in Oyo State have received different categories of Kenaf, yam and cocoa seedlings as part of the Federal Government’s coronavirus pandemic palliative.

Just as the Anambra State chairman of the Maize Association of Nigeria (MAAN), Mr Simeon Nwafor, has assured that 535 farmers in the state will receive inputs worth over N89 million for 2020 wet farming season from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrowers’ Program (ABP).

The distribution in Ibadan at the Federal Ministry of Agricultural and Rural Development office, Moore Plantation, Ibadan, was supervised by the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Mustapha Baba Shehuri, accompanied by Oyo State governor, Mr Seyi Makinde.

Shehuri said the distribution of farm inputs was to cushion the effect of COVID-19 on smallholders’ livelihood and avert food scarcity in Nigeria by 2021.

Shehuri said the ministry’s intervention was part of the Federal Government’s plan to sustain agricultural production, increase the resilience of farmers and enhance the national food systems.

Items handed over to the state government included 19,672 kilograms of Kenaf foundation seeds, 12 metric tonnes of foundation seeds for yam farmers, 18,000 kilogrammes of organic insecticides for maize farmers and part of 66,000 cocoa seedlings being distributed to farmers nationwide.

Shehuri, however, pointed out that while seeds were being given to farmers free of charge, other inputs were being distributed at 75 per cent subsidy.

Governor Seyi Makinde lauded the decision of the Federal Government to support the state farmers, especially when they grappled with the effects of COVID-19 on their means livelihood.

Meanwhile, Nwafor who gave the assurance in Onitsha, Anambra State, during the inauguration of inputs distribution by the CBN-ABP, appealed to the government to ensure early release of inputs to the state.

He commended President Mohammadu Buhari and national president of MAAN, Alhaji Abubakar Funtua, for supporting farmers in the state, rejoicing that the figure of beneficiaries has increased since 2019.

Head, Development Finance Office, CBN, Awka branch, Mrs Bridget Okparaeze, expressed satisfaction that more farmers were taking advantage of the opportunities in the agricultural value chain.

As part of the government’s intents, Makinde said the state was determined to revamp the Eruwa and Akufo farm settlements, finance the construction of silo in Awe and construct several rural roads, especially those that would enhance agriculture.

He asked the Federal Government to concede the Ikere Gorge Dam to the state for optimal utilisation of the facility for the development of agribusiness.

Makinde also demanded that the state be included in the Federal Government’s agricultural projects in mechanization and fixing of federal roads that link agricultural communities with markets.

Okparaeze, however, explained that the programme was not a grant but a loan facility granted to farmers in forms of farm inputs and cash components.