Nigerian leaders have failed to allocate enough funds to the agricultural sector, the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha, said on Monday.
Mr Bwacha made the call at the National Assembly when the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, appeared before the Senate committee on agriculture to defend the ministry’s 2021 budget.
The budget, which was sent to the National Assembly, is awaiting approval by the lawmakers.
The proposed budget for the sector, less than two per cent of the 2021 budget, goes against the 2003 Maputo declaration of the African Union.
The Maputo declaration
In 2003, Nigeria was part of the Maputo declaration treaty that mandated all its member countries to allocate at least 10 per cent of its total annual budget to agriculture.
This was done as a response to the current poverty level in Africa – to increase food sufficiency. However, from the available data gathered so far in the last two decades, the opposite of the agreement has been and is the case.
The declaration contains several significant resolutions, prominent among which is the commitment of at least 10 per cent of national budgetary allocation to agriculture and rural development from within five years of the Declaration.
However, since the treaty was signed, Nigeria has never met the target set for funding agriculture in Africa.
Leaders are to be blamed
Mr Bwacha slammed the present and past leaders for betraying the sector via the poor funds allocated to it.
“All of us have failed because this statement made under the African Union was made under the administration of a farmer. Implementation would have been noticed. Not even (in) one national budget have (we) been able to capture 7 per cent.
“The Minister of Agriculture, who sits on the presidency of African Development Bank, and Nigerians were expecting so much. He actually made, in his little way, efforts to sensitise us about diversifying of (the) economy.
“I am worried because some people will blame (the) government from 1999 till date. I mention this because both (the) president and ministers who have served over the years have not been able to show genuine commitment because we pay lip-service in the agricultural sector.
“When are we going to take this very seriously? Maybe (as) a community or as a parliament, with the executive, let us come together. When are we going to oblige this declaration and instrument duly signed by all of us?” he asked.