From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
A NGO, Fresh and Young Brains Development Initiative (FYBIN) has urged the Federal Government to increase its funding to the agricultural sector, especially for women and youth farmers to increase their yields and attain food sufficiency.
Founder of the organisation Mrs, Nkiruka Nnaemego, made the call Monday in Abuja at the Yfarm National Colloquium on Attracting Public Financing in Sustainable Agriculture for Youth and Women Small Scale Farmers.
Nnaemego said the Nigerian Government is bounded by the Maputo agreement and committed to the 2014 Malabo Principles of ensuring increase in public funding to at least 10 per cent of the national budget to the agricultural sector.
According to her, the increased funding will enable the nation effectively implement it’s programmes to reduce hunger and increase productivity, with focus on food sufficiency.
She said that this commitment had not been achieved noting that it is affecting the productivity of small scale farmers, who account for about 70 per cent of the country’s farming population.
According to her: “This colloquium provides a unique platform for stakeholders in agriculture to brainstorm on innovative models and approaches for attracting public financing and government involvement in agriculture.
“From the Malabo declaration, which African Heads of State agreed to commit 10 per cent of their countries’ budgets to agriculture, it is unfortunately that Nigeria is still below three per cent.”
“Agriculture is the way to go now since the country is looking for other options aside oil. We need to increase finance in agriculture.
“Although the Federal Government is trying, but it should try harder,” she said.
She further explained that Yfarm project’s goal was to promote youth/women-led agribusiness society by reducing poverty, thereby increasing active youth/women participation in sustainable agriculture by 2020.
She noted that the Yfarm Project had been at the forefront of policy advocacy, media engagement, capacity building and mentoring of rural and vulnerable youth/women in some parts of Africa.
“We celebrate outstanding youths and women, provide access to markets and business networking through our National and African Youth Agric Festivals and Concerts.”
Project Coordinator, Food and Agriculture, Actionaid Nigeria, Mr Azubike Nwokoye, appealed to the Federal Government to create an enabling environment to attract private investment.
He further urged government at all levels to do their parts by increasing public financing on agriculture across all areas with comparative advantages.
His words: “Government needs to increase the amount put yearly in agriculture by up to 10 per cent. Extension services needs to be funded to assist farmers on the best practices.
“The issue of post-harvest losses needs to be addressed urgently.
“Farmers lost more than 50 per cent of their farm produce because there are not storage facilities or processes in the country,’’ he said.
National Treasurer of Small Women Farmers Organization In Nigeria (SWOFON)Mrs Hannatu Soni, said that a lot of farmers could not access inputs such as seeds and fertiliser timely, adding that this was affecting their productivity.
“Inputs do not get to farmers early. How can government in their intervention programme supply inputs to farmers in mid farming season?
“That is a failure in its own already.”
Soni appealed to the government to make available inputs by January not in April and May when such inputs were not needed.
Mr Alphonsus Onwuemeka, the Programme Officer, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said that agriculture was in the concurrent list and urged the state governments to play their parts to lessen the burden on the Federal Government.
He acknowledged the Federal Government’s support to agriculture and urged women to take advantage of the gender unit created by government at the Ministry of Agriculture to handle women challenges.
Highlight of the event was the launched of the Yfarm Project 111 on Youth and Women as champions for nutrition sensitive agriculture.