Agric sector yearly budget revolves round 2% in 7 years – Report
In the last seven years, the country’s agricultural sector’s budget relative to the total budget has been revolving between one and two per cent, a trend that is believed to have stunted the growth of the sector.
According to an official document released by the ActionAid and sighted by The Guardian, after a detailed review of the 2023 budget as proposed for the sector, it was discovered that a meagre 1.1 per cent has been allocated to the sector.
This poor percentage allocation, industry analysts say, does reflect lack of commitment to improvement, considering the role that agriculture plays in the economy, contrary to the 10 per cent Maputo/Malabo Declaration advocated to support, at least, six per cent growth rate for the sector.
The report showed that there has been an unstable trend in the percentage of the capital budget to recurrent for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
“The allocation of only N228.43 billion to the agriculture sector, which is a marginal decrease of about 0.67 per cent from the N291.4 billion of 2022 approved budget is 1.11 per cent of the total budget and this falls short of The Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) subject also to other factors such as efficient utilisation and management of budgetary funds benchmark of 10 percent. One would recall that in 2014 at Malabo, African Heads of State recommitted to appropriating at least 10 per cent of their national budget to the agricultural sector.
“Unfortunately, Nigeria has been trailing concerning fulfilling this commitment. It is against this background that stakeholders argue that the public spending in the agricultural sector is low and should be increased.
“Inflation could reduce the real value of the budget and reduce the potential capability of the capital budget to facilitate greater sector development, and this is too important to be ignored. Some items in the capital overhead budgets are challenging or near impossible to monitor because the budget crafters do not provide enough information such as what, where, when, who and how on some of the line items.
“It is progressive for the 2023 budget to consider and prepare the economy for the general elections that will happen in that year,” the report said.
The document indicated that over the years, budget performance has been extremely poor, especially in the release of funds to carry out implementation, noting that only 20 per cent of the capital budget is being released, while 100 per cent of recurrent expenditure is used.
“This means that the salaries and emoluments paid to staff do not match their outputs. Government should ensure that capital appropriations are adequately funded.”
While recommending early release of the sector budget, the report advised that all the stakeholders – FMARD, Ministry of Finance, Budget office of the Federation, National Assembly and others involved in the budget process must ensure that the budget process commences early to align with the regular financial year (in line with international best practice) for effective planning and to align with the country’s rain-fed agrarian system, which starts in March in some areas.
“Given that most agricultural activities are seasonal and are determined by climatic conditions which vary from the Southern to the Northern part of the country, fund releases should consider and give priority to seasonal projects. The Federal Government may need to legislate on warehousing funds for the agriculture sector to mitigate the effect of untimely release of funds.
“As approved by the 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD); the Federal Government should commit 10 per cent of their annual budget to the agriculture sector to meet the 10 per cent Maputo/Malabo Declaration required to support at least six per cent growth rate for the sector as postulated in the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) framework.
“Public investment in agriculture should be scaled up in the specific areas of extension
services, access to credit, women in agriculture, youth in agriculture, appropriate labour saving technologies, inputs, post-harvest losses reduction supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture
(CRSA)/agroecology and irrigation.
“FMARD should create a yearly budget line labelled Strengthening Access to Credit, for the handholding farmers (women, youths and farmers living with disability Cooperatives) to access existing Central Bank of Nigeria agricultural credit facilities through a specialised team, among others…”