BY CHIBUZOR EMEJOR
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have once again urged the Federal Government to allocate 10per cent of the national budget to the sector, in compliance with Malabo Declaration, which Nigeria is a signatory to.
Speaking at the Joint Sector Review and Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme(CAADP) Stakeholders Advocacy Meeting in Abuja, Ken Ukaoha, President of National Association of Nigerian Traders(NANTS) underscored the need for Nigeria to scale up the budgetary provision to agriculture to achieve food security in the country.
It would be recalled that the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government adopted the declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation in 2014 in Malabo with focus on seven key areas and encouraged member countries to domesticate the Malabo Declaration, formulate a second National Agricultural Investment Plan and establish mutual accountability and implement the plan.
However, Nigeria’s budgetary provision to agricultural sector over the years has been grossly inadequate as it fell short of Malabo Declaration.
A Handbook on the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) in Nigeria launched in Abuja recently indicated that in the last seven years, Nigeria’s budgetary allocations to agricultural sector have not exceeded 2 per cent.
Presenting the Handbook on CAADP in Nigeria at the Non- State Actors Orientation workshop on CAADP/2014 Malabo Declaration, Joint Sector Reviews and National Agricultural Investment Plans, Ukaoha, said government’s investment and funding to the agricultural sector was very low as against the Maputo/Malabo commitments of at least 10 per cent public investment into the sector.
A critical look at the document showed that Nigerian government allocated 1.8 per cent of its budget to agriculture in 2011, 1.6 per cent in 2012, 1.7 per cent in 2013 and 1.4 per cent in 2014.
“In 2015, budgetary allocation to agriculture was 0.9 per cent, while in 2016, it rose to 1.3 per cent and in 2017, and it was 1.8 per cent.”
Commenting on the importance of CAADP in the Continent and Nigeria in particular, he said, it was developed to ensure sustainable development, mutual accountability, poverty reduction and other gamut of policies that work in tandem to achieving food security and human development in the African Continent.
He noted that out of the 18 indicators created by African Union, Nigeria provided data for only 10 indicators, adding that the country scored 3.4 out of 3.9 bench mark.
As part of the recommendations, the stakeholders at the meeting noted that, “Nigeria should increase public expenditure in agriculture to meet the CAADP Malabo target of 10 per cent and meet the spending needs on social protection for vulnerable social groups and for resilience building initiatives.
“The country should allocate more public investments in agriculture and address the strategic areas of investments that would increase the agricultural Gross Domestic Products(GDP) to at least 6 per cents.
“Nigeria should also ensure increase in fertilizer use and supply of quality agriculture inputs to boost agricultural productivity.”
In his submission, Mr. Sylvester Baye, Director of CAADP, in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, explained that the African Union adopted the NAIP as the central instrument for the implementation of the CAADP as it relates the Continental aspirations into evidence based plans with clear targets, budgets and transparency.
He noted that the Plan accommodates and interlinks other national development plans and secures the buy-in of state and non-state actors.
He therefore called for improved funding and priority attention given to agricultural data production and information management in order to plan and monitor progress better.