Group expresses worry over poor funding of agric

Public Financing of Agriculture Budget Committee, made up of a number of civil society organisations in Kogi State has raised concern over the drop in allocation to the sector in the 2019 budget proposal, warning on the possible negative impact on the economic diversification drive of government.

The CSOs came together to work towards increased spending on agriculture and support for smallholder women farmers, as well as youths.

Speaking with The Guardian at the State House of Assembly complex, during the commencement of budget defence by the various ministries and MDAs, the Executive Director of PIBCID, Gift Omoniwa, who is also a member of the committee said government should be seen to encourage agriculture not to decrease its allocation.

“Basically what we have done today is to have a briefing with the House Committee on Agriculture to look into the analysis of Kogi State Agriculture. From the analysis, we have observed there is a decrease in the budgetary allocation to the sector from five per cent in 2018 to 4.31 per cent in 2019.

“This, for us is not encouraging because we currently have reduced income and we are advocating for the government to diversify into agriculture and here we are decreasing allocation to the sector.”

She also raised concern over the low rate of release of actual spending in 2018, saying their analysis shows that only four per cent of the total budget allocated was actually released.

“This for us is very poor and it shows that we are actually wasting a lot of time preparing the budget, disseminating the budget and doing so many things to defend the budget and at the end of the day it just stands as a mere document that really doesn’t get to be implemented.”

She challenged the government to prepare more realistic budgets and ensure that there are releases to back up what they have budgeted for.

According to her when that is done it will translate into improvement in the lives of the people and also help to ensure that the resources spent on the budget preparation processes are not wasted.

Omoniwa pointed out that the copy and paste syndrome, which they have been advocating against, has been curtailed to a larger extent.

She advocated for at least 10 per cent of the entire budget to be earmarked for agriculture, “What we are going to have is that there will be plenty food for our people, as they will no longer be hungry. In terms of employment, the youths and adults would be gainfully employed and Nigeria, instead of importing food will now begin to export food to other countries.”

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