2019 Budget: 16 years after, Nigeria fails to implement Maputo Declaration on Agric, food security
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THE Federal Government has proposed the sum of N138 billion as the 2019 budget for the agriculture sector, representing 1.56 per cent of the national budget as against 10 per cent recommended by the Maputo Declaration of 2003.
If approved, the ministry would get N80,290,007,947 as its capital budget with total recurrent expenditure pegged at N57,677,415,129.
President Muhammdu Buhari in his budget presentation to the Joint Session of the National Assembly recently in Abuja, though restated his commitment to developing the agriculture sector by refinancing the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) and the Bank of Industry (BOI) with N15 billion and additional N10 billion respectively.
In 2018, the ministry proposed N53.8 billion as recurrent expenditure and N149.19 billion as capital budget as against N31.75 billion recurrent and N103.79 capital expenditure in 2017.
But the N80.29 billion proposed for the capital projects in the agriculture ministry is much lower than the proposed budget in 2018 (N149.19 billion) representing 2.2 per cent and N103.79 billion in 2017 representing 1.38 per cent.
Moreover, the agric budget for more than a decade has been marginal to really reflect the government’s seriousness to feed its growing population projected by the UN to hit about 398 million by end of 2050.
In July 2003, the Federal Government agreed to the African Union (AU) Maputo Declaration on Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), aimed to set aside ten per cent of the annual budget to develop the agriculture sector and ensure food security in member countries.
The decision was made at the second ordinary assembly of the AU as an integral part of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) but 16 years after, Nigeria still lags behind.
The highest budgetary allocation Nigeria ever recorded is 2 per cent and that was in 2018.
Since the inception of his administration, President Buhari promised to reposition the economy and drive the nation’s revenue through an alternative source – the non-oil sector which is mainly agriculture.
Though, the agriculture ministry ranks among 12 top Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) with high Capital Expenditure Allocations in the 2019 proposed budget but previous budgets have not entirely reflected government’s seriousness to the AU agreement.
International organisation and civil society organisations such as Actionaid Nigeria has repeatedly argued that if the federal government was serious about food sufficiency, it would respond to the AU declaration through its unveiled Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) and the Agricultural Promotion Policy (APP) also known as Green Alternative.
Agriculture is regarded as the second largest contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) making up 23 per cent of the country’s GDP.
Actionaid in its analysis of the 2018 budget observed the gradual increase in appropriation between 2014 – 2018 from 0.9 to 2 per cent yet still far from its pledge at the Maputo declaration.
A report on the Community Participatory Assessment of Government Expenditure on Agriculture on Smallholder Women Farmers Access to Extension Services revealed that smallholder farmers dominate the agriculture sector and produce 90 per cent of the output, yet have difficulties accessing agricultural extension services.
Cisse Lo, Speaker of the Economic Community of the West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament at the 1st ECOWAS People’s Agriculture Budget Summit, held recently in Abuja, frowned at the inability of Nigeria and other member countries to fulfil its 10 per cent commitment to the agriculture sector.
“Despite the 2014 Malabo Declaration and recommitments to the CAADP principles by the African Union Heads of States, Public investment to the sector has not substantially increased to be able to drive the 6 per cent growth. Between 2008 and 2014, Western Africa saw a decline in agricultural GDP by nearly 1.5 per cent”
“In many cases where the budgetary allocation has been maintained, they have been characterized by untimely or non- releases of allocated resources within each financial year depriving the agricultural sector the needed growth and contribution to economic development and poverty reduction,” she added.
African nations with over 10 per cent annual budgetary allocation to agriculture sector include Senegal, Ethiopia, Mali, Niger, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi etc.