Buhari-at-the-farm-in-Nairobi

Proposed N76 Billion for Agric Sector Grossly Inadequate – ActionAid

ActionAid Nigeria has said that with the dwindling oil prices in the world market, the proposed N76 billion allocation to the agriculture sector by the federal government is grossly inadequate.

The anti-poverty agency added that a critical look at the budget showed that there is a lot of unclear language as regards to what intention of the government is.

The Deputy Country Director, Action Aid, Ms. Ifeoma Charles-Monwuba made this known in Abuja at the Citizens Dialogue on the 2016 proposed agriculture, organised in collaboration with other civil society Organisations (CSOs), and the Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation (SWOFON).

According to her, “with the dwindling oil prices, there is an urgent need for the government of Nigeria at all levels to prioritise the agriculture sector.”

Charles-Monwuba stated that: “the proposed level of the federal government’s budgetary allocation to the agriculture of N76,753,672,273 which is barely 1.26 per cent of the proposed budget is considered grossly inadequate for a sector that employs 70 per cent of the population.”

She emphasised that the state government budgets have consistently failed to meet the Maputo Declaration of 10 per cent of their budgets to the sector.

The deputy country director explained that there are a number of vital areas required to improve agricultural productivity for pro-poor growth which include supporting women and youth in agriculture, access to affordable agriculture finance, farm inputs, quality extension services, research among others.

She equally lamented that despite the women constituting 60 to 80 per cent of the agricultural labour force in the country, their access to agricultural related services of credit, inputs, training and advice, technology, crop insurance, and so on is much lower than men.

Charles-Monwuba stressed that, “the present administration has made an improvement on the 2015 allocation to the agriculture sector, now it has moved below from 1 per cent mark to 1.2 per cent mark, but we are saying that a lot still needs to be done.

“We need greater transparency in the allocation, greater specificity on what these monies are meant for, so, if you look within the budget, there is a lot of unclear language as regards what intention of the government is, and it is important that for transparency and accountability and to enable the citizens know and follow the money, it is important that this budget be made more explicit.” “It is important that issues around women, specific government programmes targeting them is clearly stated so that they can know what the programmes are and be able to assess them,” she added.

Charles-Monwuba also lamented that the budget as presently proposed makes provisions for capacity building for the youths, but silent on start-up capital and other incentives to attract and sustain youth engagement in the sector.

“The National Assembly in its review of the federal budget must therefore demand that amendments be made to the allocation of resources to the sector as a whole and within specific line items to support women and youths’ participation in this vital sector,” she said.

On his part, the president, National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Barr. Ken Ukaoha said if the All Progressives Congress (APC) manifesto, as well as president’s budget speech have all been tailored towards the development of youths, and poverty alleviation, then the budget itself should follow the same line.

“We commend that the capital allocation is improved, however, the details of what the capital is meant for is worrisome, and we request that government should take a second look at the details so that women farmers who are in the majority will be seen in the budget”, he added.

 

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