Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have expressed divergent views on the N362.9bn that was budgeted for the agricultural sector in the 2024 national budget. While some are of the opinion that the amount is too small to tackle the various challenges bedeviling the sector, some said the judicious use of what was budgeted is the most important thing. The experts lamented that what was budgeted was just 1.3 percent of the total budget and that the agriculture sector has not exceeded two percent of the overall budget for the past seven years or more.
They called on the federal government to commit 10% of her annual budget to the agriculture sector to meet the 10% Maputo/Malabo declaration required to support at least 6% growth rate for the sector as postulated in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework and ensure timely and total releases of the agriculture budgets towards food security, unemployment reduction and poverty eradication. The National President of the Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Sunday Ezeobiora, said that the N362.9bn, which is a mere 1.32% of the total Federal Government’s budget for agriculture, a sector that employs the most number of Nigerians, is too poor for a country that expects food inflation to fall.
The National Vice President, Tilapia and Aquaculture Developers Association of Nigeria (TADAN), Nurudeen Tiamiyu, stated that, “Our agriculture budget is 1.3% of the total budget and we claim we declared a state of emergency on food security. You cannot have food security with such allocation”. He said that the country was not yet ready for agriculture.
A former Executive Director of Lake Chad Research Institute (LCRI), Dr. Oluwashina Olabanji said that if Nigeria is truly serious about diversification through agriculture and food security, there is need for more budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector to transform the Nigeria economy. He said that the poor budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s agriculture sector cannot, at the barest minimum, address issues relating to mechanisation, rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and dams, storage and research and development among others that have continued to impact farmers’ productivity negatively. On his part, the Managing Director of Bama Farms, Prince Wale Oyekoya, in his view, said that what was budgeted for the sector in the 2024 budget was extremely low to take the country off the hook from the food crisis that the nation finds itself in.
He pointed out that apart from security and education, agriculture should be the next because a nation that cannot feed its own people is not worth being called a nation. “The projection for the agriculture sector is very bleak with less than two per cent of the budget. I don’t see anything really coming to increase food production this New Year, we need to do more and more encouragement must be given to the sector to thrive”, he said. However, the National President of Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Comrade Adeola Adegoke, said he will not complain about the amount budgeted for agriculture but the critical issues to look into are the implementation of the policies in place and focus of the present administration to make food security not mere rhetoric like previous administrations in Nigeria. “We cannot be doing the same things in the same manners and still expect different results without re-evaluating or re-assessing the procedure of implementation”, saying that he said that in as much as agriculture is on the concurrent list, state governments have a lot to do in terms of contributing to the development of agriculture in their respective states.