• Farmers accuse govt of lip service to economic diversification
• FG earmarks 1.73% against 10% Maputo declaration
• Failure to boost sector spells doom, ex-PAN boss warns
Allocations by federal and state governments to agriculture in 2021 have fallen below five per cent, less than half way into the bottom line agreed to at the Maputo and Malabo declarations, signed by the Federal Government in 2003 and 2014.
The extant declarations recommend a minimum of 10 per cent of total public budgets to the sector to enhance food production and wealth creation, as well as reduce escalating malnutrition in Africa.
But of the Federal Government’s total budget, only N280,135,513,553 is allocated to personnel, overhead and capital expenditures of the agric sector, representing a paltry 1.73 per cent of the total sum.
It sharply contrasts with the spirit and intent of the Maputo and Malabo declarations of African Union.
It also shows that governments and policy makers in the sector are merely paying lip service to calls for diversification of the economy.
“We hereby adopt the following Declaration: Commitment to Enhancing Investment Finance in Agriculture 2. We commit to enhance investment finance, both public and private, to agriculture; and to this end we resolve: a) to uphold our earlier commitment to allocate at least 10 per cent of public expenditure to agriculture (Maputo Declaration 2003), and to ensure its efficiency and effectiveness; b) to create and enhance necessary appropriate policy and institutional conditions and support systems for facilitation of private investment in agriculture, agri-business and agro-industries, by giving priority to local investors; c) to fast-track the operationalisation of the African Investment Bank, as provided for in the Constitutive Act of the African Union, with a view to mobilising and disbursing investment finance for priority agriculture related investment projects,” Heads of State and Government said in their resolution at the African Union Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in June 2014.
The development has left many farmers across the country lamenting, as the low budget allocation trend flows to the state levels.
IN Oyo State, one of the objectives of the administration as announced was to open up the state with massive infrastructure, which would make access to the hinterlands to facilitate the movement of goods and foods.
But in the 2021 total budget of N268.8 billion, comprising N137.20 billion recurrent and N131.57 billion for capital expenditures, only N9,575,049,923.14, representing 3.6 per cent of the total, is allocated to the sector.
Governor Seyi Makinde, while presenting the budget, had highlighted how the administration, in the last one year, began a massive turnaround of the agricultural sector, in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) on the Start Them Early Programme in agribusiness and the ongoing upgrade of the former OYSADEP headquarters, Saki, now named the Oyo State Agribusiness Development Agency (OYSADA), among others.
With the allocation of N131.57 billion to capital expenditure, coupled with infrastructure getting the second highest, many roads would be opened up, the governor said. At the end of the year, stakeholders would have to evaluate the overall impact on the sector.
IN Kano State, the budgetary allocation to the sector 2021 stands at N8.7 billion, representing about 5.0 per cent of the total budget.
Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, in late 2020, signed the 2021 appropriation of N177,936,730,540 into law. Out of the total budget, N107,787,239,297 is allocated to recurrent expenditure, while N70,149,491,244 goes for capital expenditure.
Analysis of N8.7 billion allocation to agriculture and natural resources indicates N2,560,000,000 for Agro-Processing, Productivity, Enhancement and Livelihood Improvement And Support (APPEALS) Project; N133,370,000 to improving the veterinary services, which include procurement of vaccines, renovation of five clinics and other services; N150,000,000 to post-training package for students of Leventis Foundation and Procurement of vaccines and equipment for mass animal vaccination agent C.B.P.P; PPR and Anti-Rabies with N25,000,000 allocation.
Under Kano State Agricultural Development Agency (KNARDA), the government allocates N47,000,000 for rehabilitation of markets and parks; N163,644,600 for upgrading of Kadawa Seed Processing Plant; N74,887,505 for National Programme for Food Security; N100,000,000 for nutrition-related activities; Development and Maintenance of Kano Zoo and Wildlife Management Agency gets N118,000,000, while IDB facility, Agric. Components, has N3,500,000,000 in the 2021 budget. Analysts hope that trackers would be on ground to do follow-ups.
THE Kwara State budget to the sector is less than 3.0%. The N123,091,307,468 billion budget has a total sum of N3,698,554,084 billion allocated to capital projects in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
As part of the state’s desire to boost food production and ensure food security, Governor AbdulRazak said efforts would be made towards procurement of farm machineries and equipment that would enhance mechanised farming in the state during the 2021 fiscal year.
BORNO State allocates 4.64 per cent of the total N248 billion 2021 appropriation to the sector, as signed by Governor Babagana Zulum.
While presenting the budget on December 9, 2021, Governor Zulum said: “As the agricultural sector is one of the 10-point agenda of state government, N11.5 billion has been earmarked for its capital and recurrent expenditures. It is our intention during the next farming season to cultivate 65,000 hectares of farmland.
“We’re also supporting 100,000 farmers to enhance irrigation farming,” adding that seedlings, machineries and interest-free loans would be provided to the farmers.
ABIA State Government allocated only 1.49 per cent of the total 2021 budget to the sector.
Out of N131.89 billion budget, tagged ‘Budget of Local Content and Sustainable Development,’ 1.49% of it or N1,952,414,000 billion, comprising N1,471,032,000b capital and N486,382,000 million recurrent expenditures, is allocated to agriculture.
The state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, said the goal of the budget is to rejig agencies of the government to ensure they become more productive, coordinate effective delivery of services to Abia people, and interpret the vision of delivering multi-sectoral growth across the state.
According to him, while intensifying support for primary production, focus would also shift to agro-processing.
Four products, rice, palm produce, cassava and poultry, were, according to him, earmarked for continuous boosting in production and marketing.
The state Finance Commissioner, Dr. Aham Uko, indicated that agriculture would empower and create employment through value-chain programmes in 2021.
ONDO State, known for cocoa and palm oil production, could not go beyond N8,437,383,189.50, representing 4.82% of the total budget of N174.8 billion for the sector. Of this, N1.5b is earmarked for recurrent while N6.8b goes for capital.
However, the Akeredolu administration moved agriculture from a miserly allocation of 1.10 per cent in 2016 to 5.12 per cent in 2017, when he came on board on February 24, 2017.
Stakeholders, like Justice, Development and Peace Centre (JDPC), a Catholic Organisation in Ondo State and other critical stakeholders in the sector, often lament that there is huge funding gap in relation to the Maputo Declaration.
EKITI State gave a total of N1,936,763,728.04 to the sector in the 2021 appropriation, representing 4.0% per cent of the total.
While presenting the breakdown of the 2021 budget recently, the Commissioner for Economic Planning, Mr. Femi Ajayi, said: “Our focus will be to improve agricultural productivity and construction of 1000km rural access and feeder roads to enhance distribution of agricultural produce to existing and new markets.”
KADUNA State Government marginally moved above most states with a N10 billion allocation to agriculture, out of a total budget of N237billion for 2021. This represents 4.22 per cent of the budget.
The Commissioner for Planning and Budget, Thomas Gyang, explained that inputs from members of the public were obtained before the estimates were transmitted to the State House of Assembly for approval.
While lamenting the poor attention to the sector at state levels, an exporter and coconut investment promoter, Mr. John-Bede Anthonio, argued that since the centre of food production is at the state level, where land abounds and farming activities take place, states should do better if the Federal Government allocates a little to the sector.
Also, a commercial poultry farmer in Ibadan and former chairman of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mr. John Olateru, said it was saddening for the country to take agriculture with levity.
“Right now, grains are in short supply. Last year, rainfall pattern caused a lot of poor yield throughout the country. Dry season farming is now the only way out.
“This calls for investment in irrigation systems. All levels of government need to be on board. Failure to do this is spelling a big doom for the country,” he said.
Olateru said poultry farms had been closing down at a very high rate, throwing workers into the unemployment market and some were being thrown into early graves as their investments melt away.
MEANWHILE, the National President, All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), Mr. Kabir Ibrahim, said though it would be normal to analyse these budgetary provisions with cross-cutting segments of development like trade and investment, environment, transportation and water resources to come to the conclusion that state governments and Federal Government have not met the Maputo Declaration of 10 per cent, the more important thing is the real implementation of the allocations, whether the budgets are effectively implemented.
Also, Mr. Segun Sewoniku, chairman, Answer Industries Ltd, a manufacturer of egg powder in Ogun State, said there could have been nothing wrong about the less than 5.0% allocations if they “do give grants and loans to farmers. The funds allocated have always been for research, training and running government vehicles, etc, not for direct benefits of farmers. Formerly, those jumbo agriculture allocations were mostly corruptly spent.”
Chairman of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) in Kebbi State, Mr. Sahabi Augie, said: “It is sad at this COVID-19 era, when every country is struggling to produce its own food, when we are not sure as to where to import food from even if we want to, I think governments at all levels should avoid paying lip service to or politicising agriculture, and do the needful so that we can achieve the goal of national food security.”
A rice processor in Lokoja, Kogi State, Mr. Afiz Oladejo, said the “country is a ‘joker’ and pays lip service to even food security.”
He argued that if the Federal Government could devote so little to the sector, why would banks not frustrate striving private entities that see food security as important as their existence?
“I just wish Nigerians can just ensure they all farm, no matter how small, in their compounds or organised farming,” he said.
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