Kogi state House of Assembly has pledged to improve the percentage budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector in 2019 to ensure the attainment of the 2003 Maputo Declaration stipulating a minimum of 10 per cent for the sector.
Abdulkareem Kekere-Sani (APC-Okehi) and chairman, House committee on Agriculture, disclosed this during the parliamentary briefing and presentation of the 2018 Kogi Agriculture sector budget analysis in Lokoja, the state capital.
The programme was organised by the state Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Budget Committee supported by ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID).
Kekere-Sani said the House would ensure tremendous improvement on the current percentage of 6.56 to enhanced agricultural production, diversification of the economy and self-sufficiency in food in the 2019 budget.
The House committee chairman said the state government was committed to the overall improvement in the agricultural sector, especially smallholder farmers and women participation in agricultural activities.
He stressed that the parliamentary briefing and presentation of the analysis afforded the members the opportunity to ascertain the needy areas and called on all stakeholders to come together and right the wrongs in the sector.
Mr Hamza Aliyu, Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroots Advancement (INGRA), presenting the 2018 Agriculture sector budget analysis and recommendations for 2019 said Nigeria had over 80 million hectares of arable land out of which only 40 per cent was being utilised (cultivated).
He said that the nation’s population of over 180 million people made her Africa’s largest agricultural market but little effort was being made by government at all levels to fully exploit the naturally endowed agricultural potentials.
Aliyu said that the country was yet to implement the 2003 Maputo Declaration to which it remains a signatory, with a commitment to allocating at least 10 per cent of its annual Budget to agriculture.
According to him, other sectors that drive the socio-economic development of the state such as Education with 11.93 per cent, Health with 8.78 per cent, Government House with 17.47 per cent, Works and Housing with 13.55 per cent were placed above agriculture.
Aliyu noted that though there was a consistent increase from 2.7 per cent in 2016; 4.53 per cent, 2017 and 6.56 per cent in 2018, it was still less than the Maputo challenge of accepted International benchmark set for African Nations.
Also speaking, Edoko Moses-Ododo (APC-Dekina-Biraidu), a member of the House committee on Agriculture called for timely presentation of the budgets to enable it undergo proper legislative processes and early passage.
Mr Victor Omofaiye (APC-Ijumu) said there ought to be a tripartite arrangement between the Executive, Legislature and the NGOs as stakeholders, to identify the challenges and address them appropriately.
Mrs Gift Omoniwa, ActionAid Project Manager and Executive Director, PIBCID said that meeting was imperative to enable annual budgets to the sector make better impacts on agricultural practices and the farmers.
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