*seek security for Nigerian farmers
AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
The need to improve agricultural funding in Nigeria has again been stressed as the biannual review of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) report of Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) project being implemented by ActionAid Nigeria, a programme which seeks to strengthen the capacity of farmer federations and women’s organisations (both local-level organisations and national), held recently in Orchid Hotels, Asaba.
In the latest review, which focused between 2018 to 2020, the stakeholders from Development and Civil Society organisations, CSO’s stated that the performance of government funding of agricultural had been very poor.
Looking at the Delta State budget on agriculture, it was agreed that for the time in question, the government and the state governments in Nigeria are not meeting up with the expected budgeting for agricultural development.
The review which was facilitated by the Environment and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC), with sponsorship from ActionAid Nigeria, stated that however, the performance for the period had a little improvement over the previous years.
According to the report, the measurement benchmark is 6.60 per cent, but Nigeria recorded 5.18 per cent, compared to other countries and improving smallholder farmers.
According to Mr. Lucky Enegide, the facilitator from Envirumedic, it is one of the objectives of the biannual review is with a view to publicizing the levels and line items in current agricultural budgets, assessing their effectiveness, and advocating for increased allocations that are more targeted to the specific needs of smallholders, especially women farmers, who are considered the food growers in the country.
It would be recalled that in 2003, the African Union Assembly of Heads of States and Governments adopted the Maputo Declaration on Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), setting broad targets of 6% annual growth in agricultural GDP and allocating at least 10% of public expenditures to the agricultural sector.
The leaders announced their intentions to achieve these targets through collective action across the continent, focused on improving agricultural planning and policies, scaling up investment to implement these plans and policies and harmonising external support for African-owned plans.
Ten years down the line, in June 2014 in Malabo (Equatorial Guinea), the AU Heads of State and Government adopted seven Commitments in the Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation.
These Commitments, designed to achieve transformation by 2025, comprise: (i) recommitment to CAADP principles and values, (ii) enhancing investment finance in agriculture, (iii) ending hunger by 2025, (iv) halving reducing poverty by half, by 2025, through inclusive agricultural growth and transformation, (v) boosting intra-Africa trade in agricultural commodities and services, (vi) enhancing resilience of livelihoods and production systems to climate variability and other related risks, and (vii) mutual accountability to actions and results.
According to the report, while the commitment by the AUC, RECs and Members States to implement the CAADP Biennial Reviews is commendable, it has been observed that its strategy and procedure has not taken all stakeholders into account to ensure effective engagement and participation.
In Nigeria for example, there has been a challenge of carrying all stakeholders along (especially at the state level) in the Biennial Review process. Other challenges include lack of awareness among stakeholders and the huge challenge of data collection to feed into the BR report.
However, the various speakers from the civil society organisations, the Delta State Ministry of Agriculture, the Delta State Ministry of Economic Planning, agreed that there is need for improve in performance with focus on the basic services these state ministries are to provide for the growth of agricultural produce in the state, especially with increasing budgetary provision that will affected the lives of smallholder and women farmers.
It called on the government agencies in the state involved in agricultural monitory to always engage stakeholders before and during the preparation of annual budgets, as it also challenged the ministry of agriculture to monitor and improve on its Agricultural Extension Services, as it has been noticed that there has been fall in the presences Agricultural Extension Works for a very longtime in the state.
Speaking at the event, the representatives of ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Blessing Akhile and Mr. Azubike Nwaokoyo, stated that the biannual CAADP review since April 2019 CAADP Non-State Actors Coalition (CNC) and ActionAid in collaboration with Africa Union Commission, OXFAM, TRUST AFRICA and other CSOs held NSA Value addition BR toolkit (VABKIT) testing workshop to build capacity of the Non-State Actors around knowledge, analytical skills, monitoring and tracking and engage in the implementation of the CAADP Malabo Declaration and hence its monitoring improvements and outcomes of the agricultural sector at local state and national levels.
The stakeholders also called on the government to ensure that security for rural farmers is taken as part of its responsibility, as farmers, especially the women farmers had increasingly been attacked, and kidnapped in their farmers by suspected herders, and destruction of crops by animals from the herders.
It stated that this development has become worrisome, as it has greatly affected the agricultural output of the state within the period under review.
Representing the state government agencies were Mrs. Atogun Fudelia, Director Planning, (Environmental and General Administration Sector), Ministry of Economic Planning), Mr. Carrelli Emeke, Ministry Agricultural and Natural Resource, Mrs Rachael Ruppee-Missam, Leader of SWOFON in Delta State.