Underwriters in Nigeria will continue to shun Agriculture Insurance unless government put in place strong home grown measures that will ensure protection of lives and properties in the country, NGOZI ONYEAKUSI reports.

The 1st and 6th January, 2018 massacre by herdsmen in two communities of Benue State leading to death of over 73 people and destroying lot of properties, is a clarion call for the government to wake up to its responsibilities.
Nigeria, in an effort to diversify its economy away from oil, in order to ensure food security, has resolved to focus on agriculture, but incessant farmers/herdsmen clashes has remained a major threat.
Benue State, ‘the food basket of the nation’ may be currently experiencing difficulties assuming this position because of frequent attacks by the herdsmen on its farmers.
This state has recorded the highest attack from this gruesome sect since inception. History has it that Benue State has been suffering from the attack for many years back.
Investigations have equally revealed that large number of farmers who were pursued out of their homes and farms by herdsmen are presently finding solace in the United Nations IDPs camp in the state. Displaced farmers neither visit their homes nor farms anymore. Other states that have experienced similar incident include Delta, Ebonyi, Kaduna, Enugu, Zamfara, Nasarawa, Taraba States among others.

Need for insurance
Until early last year, Nigerian underwriters were offering only conventional insurance, providing pure indemnity, covering mostly farmers assets, machineries excluding yields from farms. This covers for instance, if you are transporting beans from the north to the south, and if there is accident on the way and it got damage, you will be indemnified.
Meanwhile, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM), in an effort to complement the Federal Government initiative to boost food production said it will in April this year commence the Index-Based Agricultural Insurance (IBAI), a special programme designed to support as well assist farmers in the country mitigate risks. According to the Commissioner for Insurance, Muhammed Kari, this programme which is new and better than conventional insurance will assist farmers in getting loans affordably from banks as well as get access to facilities. Speaking through a NAICOM, Director, Supervision, Barineka Thompson, he pointed out IBAI is relatively new financial instrument used in transferring agaric risks from individual or those of farmers to risks carriers. These risks, he said are also reinsured both locally and abroad. According to him while Nigerian insurance firms were providing pure indemnity insurance covering mostly machineries, tools, IBAI covers farmers yields, natural disasters like flood, weather, pests among others.
A Pilot phase of IBAI took place in10 states in the country last year, namely Adamawa and Benue.
Other include Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Taraba and Zamfara.
Notwithstanding, farmers are still not protected against external attacks mostly arising from herdsmen, Boko Haram, among others, though NAICOM assured that firms will be encouraged to factor in policies that will cover external attacks while designing products for IBAI.
However, some conventional operators who spoke to Fortune Magazine noted that agriculture risks in Nigeria is certain and mainly unacceptable due to insecurity in the country. According to them, government should live up to its responsibilities of protecting lives and properties as enshrined in the constitution.
“The devastation from the herdsmen is almost becoming something that is certain to happen. Because they cannot be arrested, they are not security made, people are vulnerable, so how do you start insuring agricultural livestocks. Insuring a risk that is sure to happen is a problem. So for risks arising from attack of herdsmen to become acceptable, there should be strong measures to ensure they don’t strike with impunity and get away with it.
The duty of the government according to the constitution is to protect every citizen of its country. The government with its security infrastructure should make sure that the menace of the herdsmen is contained. And whatever is the grievances of the herdsmen will also be addressed. Herdsmen attack is now an economic issue. We will start from here to tackle it. It is not something will start going to United Nation. Government should do the right thing. This issue is something that is at the purview of the Federal Government to contain” said the Managing Director/ CEO Enterprise Trust Insurance Limited, Mr Pascal Egerue.
On his part, the immediate past Managing Director, Anchor Insurance Limited, Mayowa Adeduro, “if farmers or herdsmen are organized into corporatives, insurers will fine it easy to insure them.
“If the herdsmen can come under corporative, we will able to insure them and their animals under agriculture insurance. When you look at all these you found out that what is causing all these mayhem is because they are not organized. If they are organized there is no reason somebody will be walking with cattle on the road. Let get them organized, so that it will be easy to finance them.
Both the farmers and the herdsmen are vulnerable, because a times we hear only from one side. Often we hear people the herdsmen attacked, the herdsmen themselves, they are complaining about people attacking them. We hear about cattle rustling. This is act of attacking and killing of cattle. Because it is a two sided thing, but if they are organized it will be easy to get in financial inclusion, they must be involved in financial inclusion to bring insurance to them. So that we can use communication technology to track them, you can track the cattle, you can track even the herdsmen that is if they are well organized. Well, it is a very sensitive issue, emotion is rising so high because of the people that were killed. Everybody is tired of these killing, people are dying like rat”, he lamented.

FG effort to curb herdsmen/farmers clashes

Federal Government, in order to address the incessant clashes between herdsmen and farmers said it was working to set up cattle colonies across the country. It was learnt that 16 states have volunteered to provide land for the establishment of the cattle colonies Nigeria. They include Adamawa, Kano, Kaduna, Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa and Plateau. Others are Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Jigawa, Yobe, Niger, Kogi and Kwara states. These states agreed to provide 5,000 hectares of land each for the establishment of cattle colonies. “We have agreed to work together to create a new culture of cattle rearing different from what we have today. We are told that it is a custom of the herdsmen to be moving around. The current culture of open grazing is posing serious challenges. This initiative would put a stop to cattle’s tortuous trekking, lead to better feeding, quality meat, provision of good water for the animals, good veterinary services and new environment that would protect the cattle from rustlers, said the Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh.

Who need insurance
According to Adeduro, farmers and herdsmen do. “They need animal husbandry insurance, they need life insurance, they need personal accident insurance, animal husbandry will cover accident to the cows, killing of the cows. This is under agriculture insurance. The farm that is being destroyed should insured. Because the farmers too they are shouting that the cattle are coming to their farms. So they need crop insurance, personal, life and accident insurance for the farmers. We should know the value of the cattle apart from people killing them, they die of diseases. So we can bring insurance to their doorstep. These people suffer a lot losses unknowingly, something they can prevent”, said Adeduro.

Are herdsmen terrorists
On whether herdsmen are terrorists, Egerue said they are. “You should also realize that globally herdsmen are known for terrorism. As it is now it is an insurable risk but not business any insurance company can gamble. Nigeria will continue to suffer uninsured losses and our economy will continue to be depleted because the government has refused to do anything. If there were checks, if is proper surveillance and if there is good information, early warning signals about that, and we know that yes risk is here but can be contained, people can insure them. But without that in place, anyone going into that will have his fingers burnt.
On his part, Adeduro stated, “It is when they are organized that we will know who is terrorist and who is not terrorist among them and how terrorism came into it. Who is who ?, this is the problem we have in this country, we don’t know who is who, we don’t know who is coming with his cattle into Nigeria. People should not brand them terrorist because they are wearing Fulani cloth. Government should do more, give them incentives, buy the land, subsidize the cattle feed, if we can subsidize petroleum, why can we animal feeding? If the government wants to buy the land, let it buy it. If the government wants to ranch the land let it ranch and pay the owners of the land. But where government says the land is available for them free of charge, it doesn’t show justice”, he said.