A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) on Tuesday described as inadequate the Kwara Government’s budgetary allocation of 0.4 percent to the agriculture sector for 2017.
The coalition, through its Budget Committee on Public Financing of Agriculture Project in Kwara, said the allocation to the sector was abysmally low.
The committee, which addressed newsmen in Ilorin, said that the trend in the allocation to the agriculture sector in the last four years had not been particularly encouraging.
Mr Abdurrahman Ayuba, the Lead Convener and Senior Programme Officer for Centre for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE), said the allocation decreased from 1.38 per cent in 2014 and 1.29 per cent in 2015 to an awful 0.40 and 0.43 per cent in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
This, he said, fell short of the Maputo Declaration and Commitment that required allocation of not less than 10 per cent to the agriculture sector.
“Furthermore, it is observed that recurrent allocations in the agriculture budget have continuously surpassed the capital allocation in this all important sector.
“This is rather discouraging as the capital side of the budget is what affects the lives of the populace directly,’’ he said.
Ayuba stated that the committee drew members from CSOs that were focused on agriculture and committed to the economic development of the state.
He added that CCEPE, a partner of Actionaid Nigeria, was playing a leading role in the initiative.
Other CSOs involved, he said, included Organisation for the sustainability of Nigerian Environment and Save the Future of Nigerian Children Initiative and Agro Nigeria.
Ayuba, however, lamented that the committee’s effort at ensuring improved budgetary provision for the agriculture sector was not yielding the desired result.
He stated that the focus of the committee had been on the smallholder farmers, particularly women, who he said, were producers of over 60 per cent of the food crops consumed in the state.
“In the 2016 budget, it was observed that provision for women in agriculture was made under the state’s capital budget.
“However, this was not cash-backed and therefore not implemented during the course of the year.
“Unfortunately, in 2017, no provision was made for capital expenditure aside a paltry sum of N205 million earmarked for training materials for all farmers in the state,’’’ he said.
He also said no clear budgetary provision was made for extension service in the 2017 budget inspite of the complaints by farmers.
The committee, he said, however, commended the state for the provision of N86 million for youths involved agriculture, expressing the hope that the increase compared with the N10 million in 2016 would generate more youth-focused initiatives.
He said the committee advised the state government to budget nothing less than five per cent for the sector in 2018 and progressively increase this to meet up with the 10 per cent 2003 Maputo Declaration on Agriculture..
Dr Muideen Akorede, the Senior Special Assistant on Media and Communications to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed, had yet to respond to the mail sent to him for his reaction as at the time of filing this report.