The Nigerian agriculture sector has still not been receiving adequate funding to bring about the desired transformation. No doubt, public spending in the sector is for the growth and development of the sector and to achieve the objectives of food security, employment generation and economic prosperity. This sector remains the major driver of the economy by contributing between 22% to 26% to the Gross Domestic Product, providing jobs for over 40% of the population and almost 90%, in the rural area.
More importantly, when agriculture is accorded the right priority, it is capable to stimulating the country’s quest for diversification from over-dependence on crude oil. It is logical to make a case for a virile agriculture sector with great potentials, responsibilities and opportunities only when allocated the required funding to deliver its deliverables.
What do we have today? Our national budgets on agriculture have been abysmally low, when compared with the 10 per cent benchmark recommended at the ‘Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods’; a declaration at the 23rd Ordinary Session of the African Union Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea in 2014.
Although the AU Heads of State and Government committed themselves to the declaration, but majority of the countries, including Nigeria, have continued to fail to implement the deal. Coming home, the 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD), equally require that the three tiers of government should commit 10 per cent of their yearly budgets to the agriculture sector.
However, for the past nine years, budgetary allocations to the agriculture sector have not exceeded two per cent. This cannot be allowed to continue. The truth is that a nation that cannot feed itself is considered failing and suffering in the midst of plenty.
Despite the growing concern about food insecurity in Nigeria, the Federal Government has allocated its lowest budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector when compared to national budgets in the last eight years. In the 2023, national budget, only N228.4 billion is allocated to the agriculture sector, which accounts for 1.05 per cent of the total budget of N21.83 trillion.
The low budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s agriculture cannot address the issues affecting farming bordering on mechanisation, rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and dams, storage, and research and development, to name a few.
Today, Nigeria is one of the least mechanised farming countries in the world with the nation’s tractor density put at 0.27 hp/hectare, which is far below the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) recommended tractor density of 1.5hp/hectare.
Despite the odds, FarmingFarmersFarms strongly believes that Nigeria can get it right by funding agriculture adequately to position the sector for growth, employment generation, meet domestic food demand, generation of foreign exchange through exports promotion in line within the framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), to positively impact smallholder farmers, climate resilience, value chain development, access to cheap credit and post-harvest losses reduction, among others, and more importantly, aid the diversification of our economy.