Participants of the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2018 Agriculture Budget have urged the Federal Government to allocate 10 per cent of the nation’s annual budgets to finance the agricultural sector.
They made the call in a communique issued at the end of their meeting in Kaduna; a copy of which was e-mailed to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.
The stakeholders said that the budgetary allocation, which was in line with the Maputo and Malabo Declarations on agriculture and food security, would boost the realisation of the benchmarks of the two Declarations for agricultural investment.
They also said that buffer funds from sources such as Natural Resource Funds and Climate Resource Funds might also be considered, given the strategic importance of the agricultural sector.
They called on federal and state ministries of agriculture as well as National Assembly Committees on Agriculture to monitor the execution of agricultural projects itemised in national budgets, using an adapted Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) results measurement framework.
The stakeholders, however, recommended that in the 2018 agriculture budget, the Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme should be retained, while the budget should be increased to address the inputs gaps experienced by small-scale farmers, especially women.
They said that for agriculture budgeting and other policymaking processes in 2018 and subsequent years, a strategy should be developed to involve and mainstream the concerns of small-scale farmers.
“For example, leaders of women farmers’ organisations and other smallholder farmers, vulnerable groups such as farmers living with disabilities, and civil society organisations (CSOs) should be invited to budget preparatory meetings before the release of Budget Call Circulars.’’
The stakeholders stressed that agriculture budget for 2018 and subsequent years should be gender-sensitive and responsive by providing line items that addressed specific challenges which affected women farmers different from men, while avoiding the fusion of the budget for women farmers and other groups such as youths.
They, nonetheless, underscored the need for the government to review all the unclear budget lines in the capital and recurrent aspects of the budget for clarity, appropriate size, efficiency and economy; adding that all inappropriate line items should be expunged or amended.
As regards faming machines, the stakeholders said that instead of importing large machines, tangible efforts should be made to invest more in locally fabricated simple farming machines, which small-scale farmers could easily access and manage.
They also underscored the need for the 2018 budget for agriculture and rural development to conform with the goals of the Agricultural Production Policy (APP) and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of the Federal Government.
“The existing Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) framework should be improved upon to align the APP monitoring, in line with the CAADP Results Framework and National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP),’’ they said.
They urged the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the state Ministries of Agriculture and other MDAs should create a budget line to sustain the organisation of the stakeholders consultative meeting annually.
“The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should work closely with National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to generate disaggregated agricultural data for sector planning,’’ they added.
NAN reports that the just-concluded stakeholders’ consultative meeting was aimed at generating discourse on the themes of the government’s agricultural policy, while facilitating citizens’ inputs into the proposed 2018 Agriculture Budget.