By Emeka Nwokocha
A coalition of Nongovernmental organisations NGOs) under the aegis of Budget Committee Group (BCG), has called on the Delta State Government to increase funding of the agricultural sector in order to boost food production and promote food security.
The Group made the call on Friday 12, March, during a presentation of its report on the Delta State Agriculture Sector Budget Allocation Analysis: 2017-2021, at a press briefing held at Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC) office, Warri, headquarters of Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
According to the Coordinator of the Group and Executive Director ENVIRUMEDIC, Chief Monday Itoghor, the Delta State Agriculture Sector Budget Allocation Analysis was a project embarked on by the collaborative NGOs of BCG with support from ActionAid Nigeria, in collaboration with ENVIRUMEDIC and DELBAG, to ascertain the policy direction of the Delta state government with regard to funding of the agricultural sector in the years under review, adding that the Budget Committee Group (BCG) was born out of ActionAid Nigeria’s Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) project.
The report stated as follows: “the budget analysis determines the coherence of budgetary allocations to the agricultural sector with the Delta State Government’s policies to upscale agricultural production; the adherence of the state’s budgetary allocation to agriculture to the Malabo declaration, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) projection on food security; the extent of realizability of the Delta State government’s food for all Deltans policy.”
Continuing, the report noted the following observations: “that budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector in Delta State in the years under review has not been impressive, stating the figures as follows: 0.87%; 0.90%; 1.06%; 0.89%; and 0.92%;
“That the allocations to agriculture were not on track in implementing the Malabo declaration that at least 10% of public expenditures should be allocated to the agricultural sector;
“That the Youth Agriculture Enterprise Programme (YAGEP) did not fall into any budget line item under job creation, to ascertain the allocation committed to the programme in the 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 budgets.”
The report established that “there was no women specific agricultural intervention in the budget line items to boost, as well as complement women farmers activities in the state.”
The report also noted as commendable, that N200 million was allocated to Delta Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (DARDA), in 2018 and 2019, but in 2020, the allocation nosedived to N80 million, then rose to N100 million in 2021, a wide margin from the 2018, 2019 allocations.
ln a similar vein, the report presented the following recommendations:
“Government should increase allocation to agriculture in line with the Malabo declaration that at least 10% of public expenditures should be allocated to the agricultural sector;
“Government should ensure timely and full release of approved funds to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, as agricultural activities are time bound;
“The budgetary system should be made transparent for ease of monitoring and tracking;
“Civil sociei organisations (CSOs), Small holder Women Farmers, and other key stakeholders should be actively involved in the budgetary process;
“Agricultural line items domiciled in Job Creation Office should be spelt out for ease of monitoring and tracking;
“Small-holders’ women farmers activities should be supported by the state government through increased budgetary provision, as they produce over 70% of food in the state;
“Government should create a specific budget line for small-holders’s women farmers to ensure they are properly supported; and
“The paltry allocations to Extension Service, Labour Saving Technologies, Inputs, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA), and Youth in Agriculture, should be increased to promote food security in the state.”
Present at the press briefing were representatives of the NGOs which included Mrs. Ayo Okotie, Executive Director of NEDI; Pst. Edewor Egedegbe – Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative (VREI); Mr. Fred Nohwo – African Centre for Environmental and Rural Development (ACERD); Onose Martha – Community Empowerment and Development Initiative (CEDI); Oso Faith – SHOWFON; Comr. Mrs. Tonbra Kilopirite – (Wive’s International); Prince K. Dennis – Onwa Mac Dee Global Concepts; Otorme Jarikre – VictoriaJarikre Foundation; Tobele Joy – Initiative for Peace and Stability (IPAS); Dr. Agboro Andrew – One Love Community Development; Pst. Sunny Okagbare – Development initiative for Community Impact (DICI); and Comrade Emeka Nwokocha – THRiVE.