The minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh has decried the slow release of budgetary allocation to execute projects that will increase food productivity in the country.
Ogbeh made this known when he received the Senate Committee on Agriculture led by its chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu in Abuja, yesterday.
The committee paid an oversight visit to assess the level of implementation of 2016 budget in the ministry.
He said that the ministry had only received four per cent of its budgetary allocation for 2016 budget for the sector.
He stressed that the released fund was small for the implementation of programmes and projects which would lead to food security in the country.
The minister added that the delay has affected 2016 wet season farming and programmes that would stimulate the economy and national income.
Ogbeh said the ministry had gone through the processes of advertisement, bidding and followed due process, which was concluded a few days ago.
He said the ministry received close to 7, 000 bids, out of it “we earned N70 million and it was paid into the Single Treasury Account.”
“Going through the bids, it took us sometime, and we did not want to skip any of the processes because we don’t want to break any of the laws of the land.”
He stressed the need to cut short the processes because there was no money in circulation.
“The ministry got an allocation of N33. 668 billion, 16 Research Institutes got N6.2 billion, Universities and Colleges of Agriculture got N3.9 billion, the three cooperative colleges N7.9 million, and eight agencies and units got N9 billion, a total of N46 billion.
“In the first quota we got N21 billion representing 54 per cent of appropriation for the main ministry that was released and in the month of July.
“In the meantime, we utilised N882, 578, 833 billion representing 4 per cent of the amount released for capital project of the ministry and membership organisation of some international organisations.
“That is how little we have spent out of the N21 billion, ” Ogbeh added.
Ogbeh quoting the National Bureau of Statistics report of August, said agriculture recorded a growth of 4.5 per cent in economy that is under recession.
“We may be approaching 6.2 per cent when the result will be published next. And that means Nigerians have responded to the call on agriculture by the federal government.”
Earlier, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu said that it was the committee’s responsibility to pay an oversight visit on the implementation of budget allocated to the ministry.
“We are here to perform our responsibility as members of the Nigerian parliament who make laws and ensure good governance in the country.
“We members of the committee are here to meet with principals of the ministry.