The Federal Government has been urged to evolve a special bailout funding for the agricultural sector as part of measures to engender rapid national development and guarantee food security across the country.
The Head, Influencing and Public Engagement of the Oxfam in Nigeria, Mr Abdulazeez Musa, made the call Monday at the “Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2019 Agriculture Budget” organised by the ActionAid Nigeria, Oxfam in Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning; and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Lagos.
According to him, if the aviation and the banking sectors can get the bailout of the government, the agricultural sector which is the most important deserved even greater attention.
“The entire population cannot do without food and many of the agro-allied products. In the face of many of the interventions that seem not to be working, the agric sector therefore deserves a special intervention beyond mere talks,” Musa said.
On her part, the Deputy Country Director and Nigeria’s Director of Programmes, ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Tasallah Chibok, said the meeting was important given the impact allocations and spending in the sector have on the well-being of citizens.
“If right investments are made to support smallholder farmers especially women and youths in agriculture, on agricultural finance/credit, farm inputs, extension services, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA), labour saving technologies, and in research and development without administrative/bloated overheads, unclear and wasteful allocations within the agriculture sector, Nigeria’s economy will grow.
“ActionAid Nigeria recognises that the agriculture sector is the only sector that can provide most of the number of needed jobs if the country’s full agricultural potentials are unlocked. But, this can only be achieved when we address the challenges of Policy Framework, Political Commitment, Agricultural Technology, Infrastructure Deficit, Finance and Risk Management, Institutional Reform and Realignment as recognised in the Agriculture Promotion Policy of the Nigerian government,” Mrs. Chibok said.
She said the consultative meeting was aimed at facilitating conversations among key stakeholders connecting the continental framework, the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) targets and the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) and the Nigerian Government’s intentions within the Agriculture Promotion Policy (APP).
Mrs Chibok said the meeting also provides opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the second generation of the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP2), facilitate citizens’ inputs in the 2019 Agriculture Budget, creates ownership, linking and integrating programmes that will help Nigeria achieve food security, wealth creation and deliverables within the continental CAADP Results Framework and ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).
She said the meeting supports the effective biennial review reporting by Nigeria to the African Union Heads of States and Government in line with the Malabo Declaration and Commitments of 2014.
The meeting is also to ensure that the 2019 proposed agriculture budget line items across the main ministry, her agencies and participating state ministries of agriculture are targeted towards achieving the aspirations of the Agriculture Promotion Policy and deliverables within regional ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP) and the continental CAADP Results Framework.
The duo of the Food and Agriculture Program Advisor ActionAid Nigeria, Mr. Azubike Nwokoye and the GROW and Project Coordinator Oxfam in Nigeria, Ms Saratu Abiola, while analyzing the 2018 proposed agriculture budget said the recurring challenges of fertilizer not reaching people, anchor borrowers and extension service not reaching people is not a good account of the state of agriculture sector in the country.
They therefore call for monitoring of the implementation of the budget and progresses of the existing and new policies in the sector.
On their parts, Mr Aso Patrick Vakporaye of the Economic Growth Department, Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning and Dr. Manson Nwafor of the Directorate of Agriculture and Rural Development, ECOWAS Commission, said achieving successes of the domestic and international agricultural policy instruments should go beyond mere talking and should be practically monitored for their successes.
The Director, Economic Growth Department, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Sam Eloho, represented by the Deputy Diretor, Agri and Water Resources in the ministry, Mrs Adeshola Oloyede, stressed the importance of reviewing the National Agricultural Investment Plan 2 (NAIP 2) in meeting the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP 2017-2020.
“Government objective in this regard include ensuring that we grow what we eat and make what we use in sufficient quantity that no Nigerian go to bed hungry,” she said.