By ONYEKACHUKWU MELUWA, Warri
Stakeholders on Sunday picked holes in the Delta State 2018 Agricultural Budget Allocation saying it has not recognized smallholder women farmers.
The staheloders stressed that the mobilization of Rural Women for Sustainable Agriculture, MORWOSA was not cited in the 2018 budget as a budget line item.
This and many more is contained in a Communique issued shortly after a one day Stakeholders meeting on Budget Allocation.
The event was organized by Environmental and Rural Mediation Center (ENVIRUMEDIC) in collaboration with Budget Committee Group, BCG with the help of Action Aid Nigeria (AAN) in Asaba.
The Stakeholders said the Budgetary allocation to Agriculture has been in a lukewarm progression or epileptic progression ascending from 0.59, 0.63 and 0.90 for 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.
According to the Stakeholders,”Allocation to agriculture has never met the Maputo declaration of 10% from 2013 – 2018.
“Youth Agriculture Enterprise Programme(YAGEP) did not fall into any budget line item to ascertain how much was committed to it in the 2018 budget.”
“It is commendable to note that N200 million was allocated to ADP in 2018 as against N50 million and N70 million for 2016 and 2017 respectively.
“It is worrisome to note that a whooping some of N64.1 billion was meant for miscellaneous in the budget.
“The sum of N1.2 billion was allocated to the Job Creation Officer’s with no clear mention of beneficiaries and location of programmes and project it is meant to achieve.
“This is a cause for worry, as it will gives room for ambiguity and inability to effectively monitor implementation.”
While noting that majority of farmers in the State are Smallholder women farmers, the Stakeholders said they should be recognized by the Delta State Government in its annual budget to agriculture.
They added that there should be re-introduction of Mobilization of Rural Women for Sustainable Agriculture,MORWSA in the budget for gender sensitivity as well as increase allocation to agriculture in a bid to comply with the Maputo Declaration of 10% allocation to agriculture annually.
“Allocated funds for Agriculture should be released accordingly and as at when due.
“Extension services and Women in Agriculture should be a sub-heading under the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in the budget.
” The allocation to Job Creation Office should be broken down in details for ease of monitoring and tracking.
“Government should adopt standard budgeting procedure of Zero Budgeting, which did not give room for Omnibus and Miscellaneous as budget line items.
“The budget should be participatory, gender sensitive and inclusiveness to reflect Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
“Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Smallholder Women Farmers and other key agricultural stakeholders should be actively involved in the budgetary process.
“Government should ensure that the budgeting process is free from political considerations as it has made redundant the administrative process.”
While thanking ENVIRUMEDIC, Budget Committee Group,BCG for organizing the interactive session in other to move agriculture forward and ensure food security,the Stakelhoders said they should in collaboration with SHOWFAN/SWOFON approach the House of Assembly to demand their inclusion in the 2019 budget and budgetary processes.
They also suggested that Media advocacy should be strongly employed in stressing the need to increase allocation to agriculture.
“Programmes/projects meant for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should not be given to politicians and technocrat.”
The Communique was signed by Mrs. Joy Tobele – Initiative for Peace and Stability (IPAS),Mr. Fred Nohwo, ECOTRACE Enegide Lucky, ENVIRUMEDIC Ms. Augustina Ighovoja, ENVIRUMEDC, Omonigho Oviorie, Media, Mrs Grace Osadjoku, Farmer, Dcn. Okezi Odugala -and EISED, Com. Victor E. Biene, DCI.
The meeting which was a key milestone for stakeholders to brainstorm on how to move agriculture forward in the State and the country at large,was organized to x-ray issues and challenges of Delta State agriculture budget.
The 2013-2018 was analyzed to serve as a guide to have knowledge of the allocation to agriculture and the funding gaps so as to guide stakeholder’s discussions and comments thereby validating the recommendations by ENVIRUMEDIC and BCG.
The stakeholder consultative meeting had in attendance representatives of Civil Societies,CSOs, Smallholder Women Farmers Network (SHOWFAN), Small-scale Women Farmers Organization of Nigeria, SWOFON, Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ministry of Economic Planning, ENVIRUMEDIC and the Media.