6.6% agricultural budget inadequate for food security in Kogi – NGOs lament

The Participation Initiative For Behavioural Change in Development, PIBCID, and Actionaid Nigeria through Scaling up Public Investment Agriculture, (SUPIA) have lamented the poor budgetary allocation for agriculture in Kogi State.

The non governmental organizations, who made their position known on Tuesday in Lokoja at a one-day state level stakeholder consultative meeting on 2022 Kogi Stats agricultural budget, said the 6.6% for agriculture is grossly inadequate and contradicts the 10 percent Maputo declaration of 2003.

Speaking at the event, the Executive Director, Participation Initiative for Behavior Change in Development, (PIBCID), Halima Sadiq, said the aim of the stakeholder consultative meeting was to leverage on the Nigeria Agricultural Policy and it’s connection to the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) targets.

According to her, the programme is also aimed at strengthening citizens’ participation towards making the 2022 agricultural budget responsive toward food security and wealth creation.

Explaining further, Sadiq noted that without solving food farm security issues, the country cannot solve the national security issues.

“With rising hunger and social insecurity, peace continues to be threatened. Farms are getting abandoned due to social security threats and natural disasters. Making farms safe and funding agricultural mechanization will create not only more for but also jobs to engage restless youths that have turned to crime for a living,” she stressed.

In his presentation on critical look at the 2021 agricultural budget and way forward on 2022 agriculture budget, Mr. Idris Ozovehe Muraina, member Scaling Up Public Investment Agriculture, SUPIA, said the latest UN World Food Programmes estimates 957 million people across 93 countries of the world do not have enough to eat.

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Continuing, Muraina explained that, “Nigeria and Kogi State are not exempted from this. A total of 239 million people are in dare need of life-saving humanitarian action and protection this year alone.

“COVID-19 has struck at a time when hunger of undernourishment keeps rising.

“Most low income, resource constrained economies would be most hit with the food crisis and Food insecurity. Nigeria with over 190 million people and over 100. million living in poverty, will have to increase its resources to the Agriculture sector to combat the impending disaster.

“Over the years, Kogi State has been under budgeting for the sector. This is despite its huge advantage in terms of its large population of over four million and a 70% farming sub group, coupled with its location at the confluence of the Rivers Niger and Benue. This makes its soil conducive for many food and cash crops.”

He maintained that Nigeria is a signatory and committed to providing at least 10% of its annual budget to agriculture under the Maputo Declaration of 2003 and as such upholding the commitment in this COVID-19 Era is crucial.

He added that with an approved allocation of N7, 689,925,925.00 to the Agriculture sector, Kogi State in 2021, plans to spend NGN1,687.74k on each person, stressing that this allocation is slightly above 2020 allocation but still grossly inadequate considering the current economic trend and depreciation in the value of the naira.

Muraina however stressed the need to review existing policies and framework on agriculture adding that there is need to increase funding to the sector to meet the 10% Maputo declaration.

Muraina also urged the government to focus resources to achieve greater value for money, enhance legislative oversight for the sector, include climate change, ensure youth and women participate in policy to harness the numerical number of these groups in improving the state food security and alleviating the daunting poverty in their respective communities.

Adding her voice, the National Auditor and State Coordinator Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria, (SWOFON), Hajiya Safiya Yahaya said the meeting has started since 2012 but expressed disappointment over the poor implementation of the agricultural budget in Kogi State.

Representative from the Ministry of Budget and Planning, Saeed Abdulllahi, made it known that the budget approved is based on what is obtainable looking at the peculiar nature of the state, adding that the government is making efforts in improving its budget provisions.

On his part, the Chairman of the Budget Committee in the state, Mr. Matthias Okpanachi, thanked all relevant agencies for making the stakeholders meeting a reality, stressing that the struggle for a better agricultural sector has long started since 2012.

He added that relevant areas on the budget pertaining to women, youth and grassroots should be taken seriously, as they are more involved in farming and in sustainability of food provision for the state and country at large.

The acting Director Planning Research and Statistic, Kogi State Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Abraham Ahmed, averred that due to paucity of funds to the ministry, they could not implement most of it’s plans in the state towards improved agriculture and food security.

Meanwhile, a shallow agricultural budget for 2022 was done and a communique was also issued at the end of the meeting.

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