To avert the looming food crisis in the country, ActionAid Nigeria has called on the Federal Government to create a separate agriculture emergency fund outside the 2023 budget for the sector.
The call is coming amidst the ripple effect of flooding, Russia-Ukraine war, COVID-19 pandemic, rising prices of farm inputs, post-harvest losses among other challenges bedeviling the nation’s food production sector and palpable fears of food crises in the country by 2023.
According to the organization, less than two percent budgetary allocation to the sector for 2023 is not in tune with current realities, hence the need for extra budgetary provision to avert the looming food crisis.
The Program Coordinator Food and Agriculture Action Aid Nigeria Azubuike Nwokoye, while reading the text of a press briefing organized by the organization in collaboration with Small-scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON) decried the low budgetary allocation of N228 billion, representing 1.11 percent to the agricultural sector out of the N20.5trillion national budget.
He noted that although N228.4 billion was budgeted for the sector, due to the current inflation rate, the value of the purchasing power of the 2023 budget to the sector is about N189.2billion, saying to achieve the investment impact in monetary terms, the gap of N39 billion must be filled either by providing additional budgetary resources or reducing inflation to the barest minimum.
Nwokoye however pointed out that the budget amount is too low to achieve the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Policy (NATIP) adding that the budget is not clear about support to smallholder farmers. He also pointed out the low funding for climate change mitigation and adaptation despite the increasing spate of natural disasters caused by climate change.
To mitigate the current flood situation, he urged the government to quickly mop-up agriculture produce excesses across Nigeria in areas that did not experience the floods through Guaranteed Minimum Price (GMP) for storage and reduction of post-harvest losses and distribution to affected areas.
He also stressed the need for the federal and state governments to complete and construct new dams, de-silt existing dams to function at full capacity, dredge the rivers and put ecological funds to adequate and articulate use for irrigation for all year-round farming to achieve food and nutrition security.
While expressing concerns over the late release of budgetary allocation to the sector, Nwokoye urged all the stakeholders involved in budget release to ensure budget processes commence early to align with the country’s rain-fed agrarian system that start in March in some areas.
He further called on the federal government to commit to allocating 10 percent of the budget to the sector to achieve 6percent growth rate in line with the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The Representative of the ActionAid Country Director, Andrew Mamedu while expressing worry over low revenue generation by the government harped on the need to support smallholder farmers and ensure they pay tax so as to generate revenue for the country.