Women farmers kick against proposed plan to cut agric ministry’s budget

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From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja

WOMEN farmers in the country have kicked against proposed plan by the Federal Government to reduce the 2020 budgetary allocation to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) following impact of the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy.

The women farmers under the aegis of Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) disclosed that rather than trim budget to the ministry, the sector should get more in order to prevent food crisis.

They spoke during a briefing in Abuja on the budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector.

Mary Ishaya Afan, SWOFON National President explained though Nigeria is a signatory to the Maputo and Malabo Declaration with commitments to earmark 10 per cent of its budgetary allocation to the sector, not much of this has been achieved in recent years.

In her analysis, she said the recurrent expenditure of the agriculture ministry was trimmed to N57.964 billion from N58.686 billion while the capital appropriation was deducted by N46.104 billion – from N124.395 billion to N79.012 billion. This is a difference of about 25 per cent.

Her words: “We recall the proposal by the Executive Arm to amend the 2020 Federal Budget and the cut in the vote of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The proposal seeks to reduce the recurrent vote of the Ministry by N721million, from N58.686billion to N57.964billion while the capital vote will be reduced from N124.395billion to N79.012billion, being a reduction of N45.382 billion representing 36% reduction.

“Overall, the sector will suffer a vote reduction from N183.081 billion to N136.977billion, a variance of 25% amounting to N46.104billion. Essentially, from the proposed amendment, agriculture’s vote as a percentage of the overall appropriation will be a paltry 1.3%. This is a reduction from the original proposal in the 2020 budget which was 1.73% of the overall budget.”

She emphasised that the Nigeria’s Agriculture Policy 2016-2020 provides for increased budget investment and political support for gender mainstreaming and affirmative action in agriculture in the period 2018-2020.

“Nigeria is a signatory to the Maputo and Malabo Declarations and the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme with commitments to dedicate not less than 10% of the budget to agriculture. Nigeria is obliged to take steps, to the maximum of available resources, to guarantee freedom from hunger for citizens, to improve agricultural productivity as well as improve livelihoods. Between 2010 and 2020, Nigeria under-invested in agriculture and committed an average of 1.57% of the overall budget to agriculture while actual capital releases averaged 59.72%.”

She, however, identified the rationale on why the government should at least consider five per cent of the total budget for the agriculture sector than others.

Ishaya, also advocated that the federal government should make provision for locally manufactured farm machinery.

Other recommendations are Gender friendly machinery and equipment such as hand sprayers, power tillers, ploughs, planters etc., especially low cost and locally fabricated equipment which can be easily maintained by local artisans.

They also called for “Improved seeds/seedlings, fertilisers, pesticides, feeds, animal stock, storage facilities, rural road networks, irrigation facilities, etc.

“Extension services including meteorological information through various platforms including print and electronic media especially radio and television as well as digital media and training of trainers.

“Promotion of climate-resilient sustainable agriculture/agroecology through the mainstreaming of organic farming, organic fertilizers, resilience building and adaptation.

She said suggested capacity building for SWOFON in order to access cheap funds through investment in understanding the agriculture value chain, proposal writing, financial literacy, monitoring and evaluation and reporting on loaned and donor funds.

“Small scale processing equipment for products preservation and value addition as well as capacity building to minimise post-harvest losses.”

 

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