Determined to protect farmers from the negative impacts of climate change with appropriate institutional risk management policies, the federal government has disclosed plans to launch a national crop insurance policy for about 10 million farmers in the country starting from 2015.
According to the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the programme, “Farming with Peace”, would cover crop insurance and strategic grain reserves, “reduce the risk of exposure and vulnerability to food security shocks”.
Adesina, who was speaking at the inception workshop on “Water Management Solutions for Flood-Recession and Dry Season Agriculture in Nigeria” in Abuja, explained that the programme would insure farmers against shocks and losses from weather related events.
“Our goal is to insure no less than 10 million farmers. We will also design and implement a flood disaster payment policy that will protects farmers, communities and states from economic losses due to floods”, he said.
He, however, urged all stakeholders to manage water well, saying, “Given climate change, water will be the most limiting factor affecting food production. We must improve the efficiency with which we use water and get more grains per drop of water”.
To achieve this, he stressed the need to focus on small-scale water management systems, rather than the large-scale irrigation schemes, which include small-scale reservoirs, use of motorized pumps, community managed water diversions, harvesting and use of inland valleys.
“Small-scale water management systems are more cost-effective, easier to implement, reaches millions of farmers, have greater impact on expanding food production and food security and empowers rural communities”, he said.
To drive the dry season rice production in the country, Adesina said that the government focused on massive expansion of small-scale water management systems, especially wash bores, tube wells and motorized pumps by farmers.
He said, “That did the trick. The impact has been massive. Rice production in Nigeria rose by an additional 1.4 Million MT in 2012, increasing by an additional 2.9 Million MT by 2013. We expanded national rice production from 4.5 million MT in 2011 to 9.2 million MT by 2014”.
Adesina also disclosed that policy measures needed to drive agricultural water management to rapidly expand food production in Nigeria will include the provision of water vouchers to women farmers who tend to be marginalized in terms of access to motorized pumps; support for leasing of irrigation equipment; financing for improving watersheds and community-based irrigation systems.
In the lead paper at the workshop, the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) Regional Director for Africa, Dr Timothy Williams said the integrated agricultural water management solutions, which the institute would deploy in Nigeria over the next three years, are aimed at increasing agricultural production and food security through sustainable water management.
Williams said this would be done by creating the right infrastructural, institutional and financial environment for farmers to profitably engage in flood recession and dry season agriculture and to thrive in the face of the challenges of climate change.
According to him, the project would be implemented in two phases, in three pilot states of Kogi, Benue and Anambra States.
In a goodwill message, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Louise L. Setshwaelo pointed out that agricultural production and food security in Africa are often severely compromised by extreme climate and weather events.
She noted that extreme weather conditions, floods and drought, do not only undermine poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, but also the overall development efforts in developing countries, including Nigeria.
She therefore called for sustained improvements in land and water management for agricultural productivity, saying FAO was encouraged by the government’s efforts and advocacy in developing agriculture, judicious use of water resources to improve productivity in the country.