Only 43.3% of states’ agric budgets released in four years — ActionAid

Only 43.8 percent of budgetary allocations to state Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) were released between 2012 and 2016, a civil society organisation has disclosed.

ActionAid made the disclosure Tuesday at a forum it held in Abuja to present its findings on spending by governments at the different levels in Nigeria on agriculture.

The Dissemination of Assessment of Government Expenditure on Agricultural/Community Score Cards on Smallholder Farmers Access to Extension services followed works by Action AIDs in seven states across Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

The states where the assessment was carried out apart from the FCT, are Ondo, Kwara, Delta, Gombe, Bauchi, Kogi and Ebonyi.

In his presentation, the Food and Agriculture Programme coordinator for ActionAid, Azubike Nwokoye, said many of the ADPs are incapacitated, having little or no resources to release to farmers. Also, tools and other enabling equipment are not being provided to them.

Mr Nkwoye said in writing the assessment the organisation found out some states allocated no fund for some years to some ADPs, and where there was allocation in the budget, it was not released.

He said some ADPs have no information on the amount available to them, “denoting that they were not part of the budget processing.

Underscoring the neglect of the agriculture sector by government in Nigeria, Mr Nkwoye said the World Bank pulled out of extension services in the country because many states failed to pay counterpart fund.

This is in spite of the centrality of agriculture to the Nigerian economy.

According to the past administration, agriculture contributes about 23 percent to Nigeria’s GDP. Although smallholder farmers dominate the sector, contributing 90 percent of its output, they cannot access agriculture extension services.

Mr Nkwoye said for Nigeria to get agriculture right, extension services need to be properly funded, not only in terms of allocation of resources but through timely releases to ensure the services reach smallholder farmers, especially women in the sector.

He praised smallholder farmers for managing to flourish in the agricultural sector, even without adequate support especially from two years ago when government declared Nigeria was in recession.

Mr Nwokoye spoke on how his organisation is working to help improve public financing of agriculture in Nigeria.

“Action Aid is implementing a project called public financing of agriculture which seem to support smallholder farmers, women farmers and their organisations to be able to engage government looking at budget plan items and to ensure that they also participate in agriculture budget making and policy making processes.”

On how to revitalise extension services in Nigeria, the organisation made some recommendations which it said emanated from some of the ADPs.
One of these is providing mobility for extension workers, saying without mobility for field visits and monitoring there would be no extension services.

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