By Samuel Oyejola
The government is presently retracing its steps back to the good old days when agriculture was the mainstay of the Nigeria economy. The oil boom in its eventuality was a doom due to the minimal attention agriculture enjoyed in the past years.
Truth be told, government did not absolutely abandon the sector. But its attitude to the sector which was once the mainstay of the economy was uninspiring.
Subsidy for seeds, fertilizers and other proceeds from the government to cushion the sector were grossly diverted to private purse while the fertilizers were adulterated and sold at exorbitant rate despite the government subsidy.
All these ensured that the sector that was once viable gradually regressed to the backseat of development. While the oil boom raged, agriculture was relegated to the background. Yet with all these woes befalling the sector, the advent of Adeshina Akinwumi as the Minister of Agriculture heralded a sanitized sector and agriculture regained its pride place in the economy.
In 2013 when the country experienced flood in more than eight states of the federation, analysts postulated that the country should brace up for famine in the coming year as the flood destroyed farmlands and its proceeds. But the foresight of the government ensured that the country never experienced famine, there was more to sell and for all to have.
Behind the curtain of this success story is the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIC). The corporation, despite its laid back profile contributed immensely to this success story even as it continued to throw its support to the resuscitation of the agriculture sector of the economy.
In line with the prime reason for its establishment, NAIC has ceaselessly worked to guarantee food security in the country by providing succor and extension services to farmers who insured with the corporation to be paid adequate compensation with the view to bearing the burden of unfortunate farmers.
The Managing Director of the corporation, Bode Opadokun, has positioned NAIC on the part to affect farmers positively with various packages for staff of the corporation and farmers who are the direct beneficiaries of the corporation. To ensure that better service delivery is provided to farmers across Nigeria, Opadokun made it a point of duty to train and retrain staff.
“ It is only when the internal customer is satisfied and knowledgeable, that the external customer can be happy. I believe it will translate to a better service and of course bring good premium returns for the corporation and at the same time satisfy our customers,’’ Opadokun said.
With the large number of farmers involved with the organisation one-on-one interaction may not be feasible at all time. To this end, the use of technology to drive the system is far from luxury but pure necessity with enormous value added to the corporation. The corporation has embarked on this lane with farmers and cooperative societies. Also in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, fertilizer is distributed to farmers through the e-wallet system.
Retracing the steps back to the good old days of groundnuts pyramids in the north, palm oil plantations in the old Bendel Zone, cocoa in the Southwest and cassava across the nooks and crannies of the country remains a daunting task.
But NAIC is no doubt committed to this task, with its Managing Director assuring that the corporation would reach out to more customers while working towards minimizing government involvement in providing financial relief to farmers in the event of catastrophe.
This article was first publish by TIME NIGERIA MAGAZINE