The Federal Government has been advised to be serious with agriculture and should commit 10% of its annual budget to the sector to meet the 10 per cent Maputo-Malabo Declaration. This 10% is required to support at least 6% growth rate for the sector, as postulated in the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) framework and ensure timely and total releases of agriculture budget towards food security, unemployment reduction and poverty eradication.
The submission was made at a media briefing in Abuja, organised by ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with the Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) and other actors on the proposed 2024 agriculture budget. The analysis focuses on the proposed 2024 agriculture sector’s budget to x-ray how the Nigerian agricultural sector is funded and positioned for growth, employment creation, domestic food requirements, and export promotion of quality processed agricultural commodities.
The group looked at budget adequacy and alignment with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework, how the budget addresses the concerns of smallholder farmers, women, and youths; allocations for agricultural components such as irrigation, climate resilience and sustainable agriculture, value chain development, access to credit, extension services, mechanization, post-harvest loss reduction supports. It also assessed the budget against some targets and key performance indicators of the Malabo Declaration around fund adequacy, goals on reducing post-harvest losses and using the agricultural sector to account for 50% reduction in poverty.
A member of SWOFON, Yemisi Ogedengbe, who read the text of the press-conference lamented that at NGN362.9 billion, the budget for the agriculture sector was very low and represents only 1.32% of the total Federal Government budget. The women farmers said that the budget allocated to the agriculture sector has not exceeded two per cent of the overall budget for the past seven years or more. “Nonetheless, actual data has demonstrated that a sector’s production in terms of social benefit to society increases with the amount of resources allocated to it. Enough support for the agriculture sector needs to be prioritised in the national budget since it is the sector that has the most potential to change the economy and employ the hordes of young people”.
Ogedengbe, while speaking on the recommendation, the women farmers pointed out that a budget line should be created from the budget as a yearly Strengthening Access to Credit budget line. “This funding should focus on getting consultants or consultancy firms to support women, youths and farmers living with disability cooperatives to be able to navigate the too cumbersome access to credit in Nigeria. The team or consultancy firm will handhold the cooperatives to access existing Central Bank of Nigeria agricultural credit facilities through preparing their business proposals, interfacing, and negotiating with the Bank of Industry (BOI), Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System (NIRSAL), commercial and microfinance banks.
“The team or consultancy firm will ensure that the cooperatives access such facilities and other services like extension, insurance and even market access, and they are able to pay back at the end of each circle. She also noted that the allocations to postharvest losses should urgently focus on supporting small cottage processing and storage facilities in communities based on different commodities to be owned, operated, sustained, and expanded by smallholder women farmers’ cooperatives”, Ogedengbe said. This according to her will help address the challenges of postharvest losses experienced by smallholder women farmers across Nigeria. The group also wants solar dryers to be provided to smallholder women farmers cooperatives in communities based on agriculture produce that can be dried to save losses.
It also urged the federal and state governments to invest massively in rural roads to support transportation of agriculture produce and trade. Earlier, a coalition of over 100 women collectives in Nigeria, the Partnership for Advancing Women in Economic Development (PAWED), has urged the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Senator Abubakar Kyari, to prioritise climate adaptation and nutrition for food security in Nigeria. The group had urged Kyari to engage women-led civil society groups in the design, planning, and implementation of his agricultural blueprint to ensure inclusivity and transparency. According to the Head of Coalition and the National President of the National Council for Women Societies (NCWS), Lami Lau, there is a nexus between food security and gender inclusivity while describing the minister’s decision to pay attention to climate change adaptation and nutrition as a possible game changer that could lead the nation to increased food security, economic development, and poverty reduction.