A European Union (EU) sponsored and non-governmental organisation, ActionAid, has criticised the federal government for its ‘poor’ budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector in the 2014 fiscal year.
The organisation disclosed its displeasure with the budget at a dialogue on the proposed 2014 agriculture budget in Abuja.
Its Head of Policy, Campaigns and Implementation, Mr. Tunde Aremu, said: “A major reason why poverty and food insecurity remain widespread in Nigeria is that successive governments have failed to give appropriate funding to agriculture.”
The Federal government’s recent drive towards private sector investment which focuses on commercial agriculture is unrealistic and will further exacerbate poverty as smallholder farmers are the ones who actually produce 90% of Nigeria’s food.
A participant at the event, the National Coordinator of Association of Small Scale Agro Producers in Nigeria (ASSAPIN), Mrs Amina Bala Jibrin, said: “The idea of government’s distribution of mobile phones to farmers might not yield the desired goal as most of the smallholder farmers are illiterates.
“The inaccessibility of fertilizers and other farm inputs are major drawbacks for agricultural transformation in the country.”
Another participant, the National President of Smallholders Women Farmers Organizations in Nigeria, Mrs Sarah Yapwa, was of the view that smallholder women farmers should be involved in the budget planning process for the agriculture sector.
According to her, there is significant improvement in the agricultural policies of the current administration, and urged the government to monitor more closely agricultural service providers to ensure efficient service delivery.
At the end of the dialogue, participants were unanimously in their recommendation that government should allocate at least 10 per cent of its annual budget to the agriculture sector, thereby meeting the Maputo 10 per cent Declaration Commitment on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.