Stakeholders Advocate Upward Review of Agric Budget, Improved Utilization

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Stakeholders in the agriculture sector have said the national budget allocated to agriculture is relatively low compared to its value addition capacity, and have called on the federal government for an increase in a view to achieve desired growth and productivity in the sector.

The call was made,during a virtual meeting programme for agric and agro-allied committee, organized by the Institute of Directors (IoD), Nigeria, themed: “Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector Allocation Relative to the National Budget: Implication on Food Security.”

Specifically speaking, the managing director, Iproduce Africa, Mrs. Aisha Umar, stated that considering various, parastatals, agencies, research institutes, and federal colleges, among others under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, it is imperative that the government increase agriculture budget for adequate financing of these agencies.

She however noted that budgetary issues are not the forefront cause of food insecurity in the country, but political interest and technological declination in the sector.

Umar therefore urged the incoming government to appoint an agricultural expert with backgroung knowledge of agriculture as FMARD minister.

In her words: “Outside budget allocation, there is a need to look at how it is utilized. A lot of the money in the budget is just utilised for political interest.”

The solution is to have a minister that is technologically driven and can control civil servants and adopt private sector synergy, youth participation, agricultural credit without huge collateral and interest.

Meanwhile, the President and Chairman, Governing Councuil, IoD, Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Ije Jidenma, earlier in her opening remark said only 1.50% of Nigeria’s budget is to agriculture and looking at the looming food crisis, the dialogue was aimed at finding solutions to food insecurity in Nigeria through improved budgetary allocation.

According to her, “The Food and Agriculture report showed that between June and August, 25.4 million Nigeria is at the risk of food insecurity, hence the need for increased budgetary to mitigate food insufficiency.”

On his part, Dr, Olabode Adetoye, Chief Executive Officer Value Ingredients disclosed that inadequate synergized collaboration is the first challenge affecting agriculture in Nigeria He said: “Synergy between the state, federal, agencies, private and public sector is less than 40%, which is the first major challenge of food security.”

Speaking further, the former commissioner for agriculture and food security, Ekiti state, noted that the government must be ready to attract investors and encourage public and private partnership to achieve food security.

According to him, agriculture should be contributing more than 60% but more than the percentage suffers post-harvest losses due to poor storage facilities and transportation.

Calling on policy makers to review set targets towards an improved agriculture system in each state, he said that “land tenure system should be reviewed, by providing compensation to land owners, and improving the enabling environment.”

Similarly, Mrs, Edobong Akpabio, Executive Director, Greenport Impact Cluster Nigeria Limited, maintained that the absence of collaboration between the state and federal government, and lack of synergize engagement between the agencies and parastatals under FMARD, including private and public sector, are the major implications on food security.

She identified that insecurity, monitoring and evaluation of budgets utlisation were factors promoting food insecurity, adding that no enabling environment for rural farmers to provide enough.

Also, the Presidentt, AFEX Commodity Exchange, Mr. Akinyinka Akintunde, also a panelist at the meeting, tasked the government to prioritize agriculture by improving the agriculture sector budget and attracting investors.

He added that: “Experts need to find out opportunity cost and appropriate capital in financial agriculture.”

Meanwhile, the Managing Director, Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, Mrs. Folashade Joseph, who was represented by a director, Mr. Jerome Olowoyeye, also tasked stakeholders to understand the problems, review agric targets and find lasting solutions.

“Budget must be allocated based on usage and adequate monitoring of executions be done. If goals are not met, then restrategizing such targets towards food security needs to be checked and worked on”, he said.

Agro Nigeria / F.I

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