By YUSUF GOJE
It will be most appropriate to start by commending the Kaduna State House of Assembly for breaking the jinx of holding a legislative public hearing for the first on the 2020 draft budget. This provided citizens and civil society partners the avenue to make submissions on the various sectors of interest towards improved public service delivery and value for money. The Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED), a civil society working on governance reforms, submitted a memo and made a presentation making a case for increased funding for the agricultural sector and use of technology to collect data for effective planning, among other critical issues.
Our presentation aligned with the words of Akinwumi Adesina, the erudite and charismatic President of the African Development Bank, who rightly posited that, “making agriculture profitable and ‘cool’ for young people in Africa is key to lifting millions out of poverty and stemming migration to Europe”. This was also alluded to in the Kaduna State Development Plan (SDP 2016-2020) which states that the – “agricultural sector is therefore critical in achieving the economic development and social priorities of the SDP as it constitutes a major mechanism for food security, poverty reduction, jobs and growth”.
Available data also buttress the significance of the sector, as it accounts for about 42% of total employment and contributes 36.69% share of the GDP in the State (KASS, page 6). According to the General Household Survey conducted by Kaduna Bureau of Statistics, 79.6 percent (1.3million) of households in Kaduna State were involved in agriculture. Equally, about 76 percent of the population lives in rural areas in 19 out of the 23 local government of the State (NURHI, National Population Commission), with their major economic activity being agriculture.
With an annual growth rate of 3.2% and a population estimated in 2006 at 6,066,562 million by the National Population Commission(NPC), Kaduna state is the third most populous State in Nigeria. Twenty two (22%) percent of the population are infants aged between 0-5 years, while 18 percent are children aged 6-11 years. The agricultural sector if properly funded has the prospect to provide adequately for the increasing population of children and the urban dwellers who are not directly involved in agricultural production activities (Sector Implementation Plan, 2017-2019).
However, based on the realities on ground, it shows that progress in the sector has not left much to be excited about, as public investments has been on the downward slide. This is with the exception of a number of private sector investments attracted by the State government into the sector. Trend analysis shows that in 2017 only 2.6% out of the total budget was allocated to the agricultural sector, in 2018 it went down to 2.3%, as for 2019 it went further to 1.2%; and with the 2020 proposed budget getting a depressing 0.9%. More worrisome is the capital budget performance trend of the sector from 2015 to 2018; which shows that in 2015 only 62.5% of the budget was released, in 2016 it drastically dropped to 19.3%, as for 2017 it went further down to 15.5%, and rose a bit in 2018 to 16.0%.
Back to the 2020 budget, a comparative analysis will demonstrate how the agriculture sector has been deprioritized. The sector only got ₦2,285,500,468 which is only about 0.9 percent of the total budget of ₦257,908,819,733.66, making it among the lowest prioritized in the State. A comparative analysis by line items also shows that the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development has – Construction and Acquisition of New State Government Administrative Buildings allocated ₦5,000,000,000.00, more than the entire agricultural sector. Same applies to in the Ministry of Home Affairs & Internal Security with a line item of Safe City Project (Provision and Installation of CCTV) costing ₦3,200,000,000.00.
Other examples are: re-equipping Mechanization Workshops only getting ₦19,849,000.00, while KADFAMA will be spending ₦70,500,000 on Landscaping of State Government Premises; Agricultural Extension Service Delivery got only ₦45,130,000.00 compared to the Ministry of Housing & Urban Development getting ₦100,355,000.00 for the Construction of Green Parks; as for Community Seed Production Enhancement Project only ₦5,936,500.00 was allocated (in a State that 69% of farmers cannot access quality seeds), but under the Government House ₦343,210,000.00 has been allocated to Entertainment & Hospitality. Also critical is the low overhead allocated to an important agency like the Kaduna Agricultural Development Agency (KADA) making it difficult to efficiently and effectively deliver on its mandate.
Aside poor funding, there is the challenge of credible data to enhance effective planning by the government, farmers’, civil society, development partners and private sector. The consequences is that we are barely meeting our outcome targets in the Sector Implementation Plan (SIP) which should translate into increased yield, food security, poverty reduction,/wealth creation, employment generation and revenue mobilization. In view of this we are proposed a line item on New Technology for agricultural data collection (Cropwatch) model for Kaduna.
This technology will encourage and increase the involvement of residents of the State in agriculture; which will improve food information availability, quality and transparency. This will drastically reduce over-dependence on information provided by third parties. If this is done, it will bring about adequate capacity in obtaining and accessing up-to-date staple crop production information. Furthermore, it will provide benefits that range from drought watch, rainfall index, temperature index, Biomass, cropping intensity, cropped arable land classification, crop condition classification and crop condition clustering. Furthermore, there will be cloud services, customization and localization, integration with local technical system and utilization of local knowledge.
This technology is set to only cost about 40 million naira, of which with the political will it will not be too difficult to adopt. This can be cut from the 280,518,000 allocated to citizen’s engagement in the overhead cost of the Government House.
In conclusion, increased public investment and adoption of new technology in the sector will go a long way in ensuring improvement in food security, poverty reduction, create job and wealth, private sector investment and revenue generation for the government. This will bring about inclusive growth and development, and will demonstrate the political will in actualizing the mantra of ‘Putting the People First’ and ‘Making Kaduna Great Again’.
Yusuf Ishaku Goje is the
Head – Leadership, Government & Advocacy
Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment & Development (CALPED)
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