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DAILY TRUST

20

Thu rsday, May 12, 2011

Business/Agric Kano tomato farmers seek techniques for preserving vegetables

Insurance: NAIC sues banks over N200bn agric loan BylibrinAbubakar

THE Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation (NAIe) has said . TOMATO farmers in Bagwai Local Government Area ofKano that it is suing major banks in the country over their non-compliance with the Act establishing the corporation for the disbursement of State have charged the incom ing administration in the state to about N133billion of the N200billion Commercial Agric Credit Loan develop tecbniques of preserving approved three years ago by the federal government towards ensuring the vegetable. food security in the country. One of the farmers, Malam NAIC said it has already directed its solicitors who have given all Salihi Abdullahi, told the News the participating banks 30 days to deduct the mandatory 2.5 per cent Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on insurance premium due from all the already disbursed loans and remit Wednesday in Bagwai, Kano, that same to NAIC. A statem,e nt,signed by NAIe's legal secretary Ch ike Okafor said sec- . the farmers suffer huge losses tion 13 of the NAIC Act 1993 had given the corporation the statutory . during harvest due to the lack of preservation facilities. mandate to e!lsure that all agric lending from the government, a bank "Due to this constraint. we are or flIlancial institutions are captured, compelled to sell our tomatoes at It added that the Act therefore empowered NAIC with the exclusive give away prices at the farms or mandate to underwrite alI the agricultural credit facilities to farmers package them in polytbene bags against the risk of natural disaster to safeguard the funds, and wait for buyers;' he said. Daily Trust learnt that only few banks including Fidelity bank have Corroborating the views complied. Some of the banks said they are awaiting directive from the expressed by Abdullahi. another Central Bank of Nigeria. farmer, Abdulhamid Iro, said The corporation insists that the NAIC Act. which is a federai govthat if the incoming administraernment law supersedes the CBN guidelines, adding that the failure tion could provide the necessary to factor in insurance element into the loan facility had rendered the facilities, the losses would be scheme ÂŤdead on arrival:' expressing fear that without insurance cover reduced to the barest minimum. by NAIC. the fund may be diverted for other purposes other than Iro also appealed to wealthy agriculture. individuals to establish processDaily Trust reports that no farmer has benefitted from the loan, ing factories close to tomato even though names of applicants and approvals were p ublished in the farms. newspapers. He appealed to incoming One of the farmers whose name was published in the newspapers administration of Dr Rabi'u Malam Isa Yaro told Daily Trust that he has not gotten a single kobo. Kwankwaso to find a lasting solu"NAIC would however elect to seek judiciary redress as a measure tion to the wastage and loss sufoflast resort. if the banks insist on running afoul of its statutory manfered by tomato farmers. (NAN) , .date;' it said.

Fertili ser scarcity: Zamfara farmers scramble for manure DUE the delay in distribution of fertiliser in Zamfara. farmers in the state are now scrambling for waste and animal dung to prepare their farmlands for the 2011 planting season. An investigation by the News Agency of Nig~ria (NAN) in Gusau. the state capital. on Wednesday. revealed that animal wastes, especially chicken droplet, now sells for between NI,800 and N2,000 per 1OOkg bag. Alhaji Barau Yusuf, one of the animal waste dealers, said that his business had witnessed a boom as the demand by farmers had increased because fertiliser was not forthcoming. "When we started the business some months ago, we hardly sell one tonne in a day; but since the beginning of April, when we started recording rainfall, more farmers troop in from all over the state and even neighouring states

to patronise us;' he said. A large-scale farmer, Alhaji Ibrahim Garba, also said that

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farmers had found manure lo be cos t effec tive and as such scram-

bled for animal wastes. "O ur best bet is the manure since there is no fertiliser from the government yet; and we cannot afford the commodity from the parallel market;' he said. Commenting on the delay

in fertiliser distribution, Alhaji Yahaya Labbo, the Permanent Secretary, state Ministry of Agriculture, attributed the development to the ongoing transition in the state. The Mahmud Shinkafi administration will give way to the incoming Governor-elect, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, by the end of the month. Labbo said that although Shinkafi had planned the fertiliser distribution for April, the traditional period for the sale of the commodity, the exercise was jettisoned following the outcome of the April 26 governorship election.

"Right now, we don't know how much fertiliser will be distributed to farmers and when, because the administration is transiting to the newly elected government, and every government has its own policies'; he said. The permanent secretary also confirmed that unspecified quantity of fertiliser was looted from government-owned stores in Gusau, Gummi and Tsafe due to the riot arising from the outcome of the election. He. however, said that tbe state government had set up a committee to ascertain the quantity of fertiliser carted away from the stores during the incident. (NAN)

'Agric Ministry to address staff demands within 21 days' FOLLOWING a protest by staff of the Federal Ministry ofAgriculture and Rural Development on Monday. the ministry has promised to meet their demands, a union official said on Tuesday in Abuja . The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the workers had locked the gate leading into the ministry's headquarters at Area II. Abuja, over unpaid allowances and other welfare packages since the tenure of the former minister, Dr Sayyadi Ruma. They also called for the immediate removal of the Permanent Secretary and the Director of Human Resources, citing alleged inaction to their plight Mr !homa Marcilins, the Chairman, Nigeria Union of Civil Servants, Secretaries and Stenographers told NAN that the ministry had promised to address their demands. "We met the Minister of State, Mr Nojeem Awodele, this morning and he has promised that our demands will be met within 21 days and that all the issues raised will be addressed, "We have accepted the appeal because he is a father to us; but after the 21days we agreed, if nothing is done, we will embark on an indefinite strike;' Marcilins said. NAN reports that the staff are demanding the payment of their transfer allowances. promotion arrears and improved welfare

The chairman said that the protest was staged to also draw the attention of the ministry to the stagnation of some staff, poor capacity building and ihe gene ral absence of welfare package for the ministry's workforce, "The management of the ministry should liaise with the FederaJ Civil Service Commission to speed up the process of the promotion of the staff to enable them to obtain their promotions letters. .. Government should do something on the issue of28 days in lieu of accommodation because some officers posted from states to Abuja end up sleeping in the office because of the lack accommodaAGRIC

Minister

Sheikh

Ahmad Abdullah package, among others. Earlier, Mr Ahmed Manzo, the Chairman, Association of Senior Civil Servants of Nigeria. bad in an interview with NAN, appealed to ille ministry to pay the N74 million accommodation allowance owed staff. Manzo said that about 160 staff had been denied their 28-day allowance in lieu of accommodation.

According to him, the ministry has paid nine million naira so far to 25 members transferred to the ministry from various minis-

tries between 2004 and 2009.

tion.

"There. is no training programme in the ministry, The government should do something about this because training will help in capacity building;' Manzo said. Manzo described the welfare in the ministry as 'awful; adding that some staff who wrote their promotion examination in 2008 are yet to receive their promotion

letters. Other staff who spoke on condition of anonym ity said that such facilities as staff bus was no t available to them as in other ministries and that there was no form of welfare package during festive periods such as SalliIh or Christmas, (NAN)


DAILY TRUST, 12 MAY, 2011