From: Babatunde Azeez, Abuja
A Humanitarian NGO, Actionaid Nigeria, has tasked the ECOWAS Parliament to ensure that head of states within the West African sub region fulfil their commitment to the Malabo agreement.
Project Manager, Public Financing in Agriculture, Actionaid Nigeria, Mrs. Constance Okeke, who spoke in Abuja at the Maiden Edition of the ECOWAS People’s Agriculture Budget Summit urged them to provide more funds funding for agriculture to ensure food security.
The Malabu agreement that was signed by the African heads of states many years back made it compulsory to set aside 10 percent of their budgets for Agriculture development.
Okeke noted that most of the West African states are below 6 percent and only 4 them have been consistent with the agreement.
She urged the ECOWAS commission to lobby the head of states pay more attention to developing infrastructures in the rural areas that would promote production and better farmer’s livelihood.
She also stressed the need for the parliamentarians instistitionalising agriculture budget summit, with the aim of keeping the Governments on their toes.
Her words: “National government within ECOWAS to invest in food security, inputs, extension services, irrigation schemes and adoptable modern farming technologies that involve more youths and women in order to achieve food security.
“We also request that the ECOWAS Parliament commit to making the engagement process more people driven and participatory by institutionalising the “people’s agriculture budget summit’’.
“This can be done by ensuring that event is held annually during the ordinary session of the ECOWAS Parliament to bring about participation on what they do. ‘’ she noted.
Actionaid Consultant, Dr Olawole Olaide, in his presentation titled: The Sate of Public Financing in ECOWAS Member State said study was conducted to ascertain why most countries form the Sub region were not doing well in agriculture.
He said the findings of the studies where that West African countries have lot of policies, but lack implementation of those policy as in the case of the Malabo agreement.
Olaide also disclosed that the average implementation rate of ECOWAS states is 6.7 per cent instead of 10 per cent.
According to him: “We want to find out what could be the problem. Is it that we didn’t have enough policy that is in place to drive the process and we also wanted to investigate is if there are policy in place.
“What could have happened if we implemented the policies and what is happening, perhaps we are not implementing the policies.
“Our findings suggest that we are not in need of policies in ECOWAS. We are not in want of policies in agriculture because ECOWAS has dedicated agricultural policies.
“We discovered that ECOWAS signed in the Malabo declaration that is driving the process of Agriculture policy in ECOWAS and Africa.
“We find out that most countries in ECOWAS are not implementing the declaration. In the average, we have 6.7 per cent instead of 10 per cent.
“We discovered that the countries that are implementing this 10 per cent are the countries that are track of the Malabo declaration and improving in the agricultural development,’’ he said.
He highlighted countries that have adhered to the agreement, which are; Burkina Faso, Togo and Mali are doing well in this process which has transformed the lives of their citizens.
He added that if countries fail to implement this declaration, it was unlikely poverty would be eradicated, hunger would disappeared, women would be empowered and youths would take up agriculture.
Mr Kopeg Dabugat, a Non State Actor who spoke on behalf of the Civil Society Organisations, also reiterated the need to institutionalise the summit.
He said the summit which is the first of it kind will bring constructive and sustainable partnership between citizens and parliamentarians in the delivery of the objective of Agriculture transformation in Africa.
He said “his Agriculture budget submit is the first of its kind in West Africa and this is the beginning of constructive and sustainable partnership between citizens and parliamentarians in the delivery of the objective of Agriculture transformation in Africa.
“This is one of the pillars of ECOWAS vision 2020 and African agenda for 2063. We look forward to your commitment in driving agriculture policies across Africa.’’
In his response, the Honourable Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse, stated that the members of parliament would ensure that the use of 10 per cent for agriculture development to explore the sector.
Some parliamentarians during responses, called for increased in budgetary allocation to agriculture by head of states to achieve food security.
Honourable Abdullahi Milia said the event was an indication that we have great issues to address in terms of food security with focus to budgetary allocation as there is a need for agric budget to be revisited for better execution.
Honourable Jeng Marhtarr Said that despite the abundances of land, government should dwell more on favourable policies that would be attracted to youths as training is highly needed for them to be successful in agriculture.