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Stakeholders lament investment in obsolete, expensive heavy machinery

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Some stakeholders in the agriculture sector, have said though there is a huge investment in the procurement of heavy expensive machines, these machines are not always appropriate to the needs of the users and unsuitable for the topography and size of land cultivated by smallholder farmers especially women.

This was one of the submissions in a communiqué issued at the end of a two-day stakeholders meeting by ActionAid Nigeria in Lagos.

The participants added that these technologies are also hard to maintain and usually dumped when they develop faults, leading to wastage.

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The participants, including directors and permanent secretaries from Ministries of agriculture and Budget from states and the Chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, stated that the Agricultural sector budget is still bedevilled by late budget releases and policy inconsistency.

They, therefore, said ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) need to itemise their priorities and give a proper timeline that synchronizes with farmers and farm season. Without such a timed budget, capital budget releases may not be coming at the time when farmers seek them.

“Though the capital projects utilization in the agriculture sector in 2020 seems to have improved, it can hardly be said that these allocations largely affected the practices of smallholder farmers who were confronted with both COVID-19, herders-farmers clashes, natural disasters, late budget releases and crowd-outs by political farmers and contractors who are the budget first liners.

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“There is inadequate awareness and knowledge on the CAADP/ Malabo performance indicators by stakeholders (Ministries, Departments and Agencies, State Ministries, Farmer Organizations, CSOs, Private Sector, etc.).”

They noted that access to credit and financial services from government and non-governmental channels by smallholder farmers particularly women are very poor at an average of 43%.

They added that the criteria to access formal financial credits schemes and programs could neither be understood nor met by over 70 per cent of smallholder women farmers.

“This is due to a high level of bureaucracy; the complexity of application processes, failure of State and LG to provide the application supports to farmers, the poor literacy level of most of the women, and the failure of the credit managers to adopt credit models that take cognisance of the farmers’ realities and take advantage of the traditional saving cooperatives to which these women already belong.”

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