The budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s agriculture sector, if passed into law, as proposed in the 2021 budget, will again fail the Maputo Declaration of 2003, which among other things, stipulates the allocation of 10 per cent of the federal budgets to development of agriculture.
The budget is, arguably, the second most important legal document of the nation after the constitution, and a tool for allocating scarce resources of the country to sectors of the economy on an annual basis.
The 2021 Appropriation Bill was sent to the National Assembly on October 8 by President Muhammadu Buhari, and has passed the second reading at the Senate.
Experts believe that the Nigerian government will once again offer lip service to the plight of smallholder farmers who are the major producers of the country’s food.
In July 2003, African Heads of State and Governments assembled in Maputo, capital of Mozambique, at the second ordinary session of the African Union assembly, during which a commitment tagged Maputo Declaration was made.
The Maputo commitment entered into is to increase annual national budgetary allocations for agriculture to at least 10 per cent and to ensure a growth of the agricultural output of at least 6 per cent annually as foreseen in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
Seventeen years down the line, Nigeria is yet to implement the agreement despite being a signatory to the treaty in 2003, after which the National Assembly ratified it on December 16, 2004.
Meanwhile, PREMIUM TIMES had reported how Nigerian leaders, past and present, continuously failed to meet the target.
Personal checks by this newspaper show that all but three member-countries of the AU (Botswana, Egypt and Morocco) endorsed the “Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security in Africa.”
An AU report titled “High-Level Consultation on the Ratification of the Maputo Protocol” said the protocol entered into force in 2005 with member nations expected to reach ratification, full domestication and implementation by 2020.
Currently, out of the 55 AU member states, 40 have ratified the Maputo protocol, with South Sudan the latest to do so.
Highlights of the proposed 2021 Budget
In the proposed budget, the total planned expenditure by the federal government for the 2021 fiscal year is N13.08 trillion.
Out of the figure, approximately N179.5 billion (1.37 per cent) is penned for expenditure in the agriculture sector.
Of this, 61 per cent ( N110.24 billion) is allocated to capital expenditure, which constitutes 3.06 per cent of the total capital expenditures captured in the nation’s budget proposed for next year.
Actionaid, in a report, noted that the budgetary allocation for agriculture increased from 1.70 per cent in 2017 to 2.00 per cent in 2018, while this fell to 1.56 per cent in 2019, and 1.34 per cent in 2020, with a slight increase (1.37 per cent) in the current 2021 proposal.
“The trend shows a rather precarious allocation pattern with no commitment to food security for the teeming and fast-growing population of the country,” the report stated.
According to the report, with the commitment of the government expressed in the president’s budget speech, a potential opportunity to increase agricultural productivity through increased budgeting can still be realised when the National Assembly reviews the proposals.
“In paragraph 35 of the President’s speech, he alluded to this and stated that the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative have reduced the adverse impact of Coronavirus on our food availability, prices and security.
“For the achievements to be sustained, the 2021 budget should prioritize investment in food production and the best approach is to increase the agriculture budget and efficiently apply the resources,” the report reads.
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