Kogi Commissioner for Agriculture Mr Kehinde Oloruntoba, has advocated budget discipline and timely release of allocations for development of agriculture sector towards sustained food security and diversification of national economy.
Oloruntoba who disclosed this during an advocacy visit by members of the state Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Budget Committee on Friday in Lokoja said annual ritual of budgeting without implementation had negatively affected development of the sector.
The commissioner maintained that Agriculture as an important sector that ought to be taken seriously saying, “Nigeria is largely an agrarian country and more than 70 per cent of our population is engaged in one form of agriculture or the other.
“Any step taken to develop agriculture is a good one a step in the right direction but unfortunately, as important as this sector is, most times our leaders pay lip service to agricultural development and it is very, very sad.
“We have been shouting that Nigeria is running a monolithic economy hence there is need for diversification and we have looked inwards and discovered that agriculture remains the most viable alternative to diversify the economy.
“There is need for budget discipline to properly channel our spending to the right sectors. Every year we embark on the usual ritual of budgeting, making projections and thinking those projections would translate into physical development.
In most times regrettably, we end up not making any impact. In 2018 our budgetary performance in agriculture was 4.28 per cent. With 4.28 per cent if you take a critical look at it and take away the overhead and salaries, it is as if we did not implement the agric budget at all. The commissioner stressed
Oloruntoba said that Gov. Yahaya Bello’s administration had resolved to move the sector to higher heights through its numerous agricultural programmes and activities cutting across the three senatorial zones.
Speaking earlier, Mrs Gift Omoniwa, ActionAid Nigeria Programme Manager in the state and Executive Director, Participating Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) said the visit was to enable interface between PFA and ministry with a view to building a synergy for the growth of the agric sector.
Omoniwa said that the PFA comprising members drawn from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the media and supported by ActionAid Nigeria sought to influence increased investment by government in the agriculture sector with a focus on smallholder women farmers.
Also speaking, Mr Hamza Aliyu of Initiative for Grassroots Advancement (INGRA) called for the physical release of at least, 50 per cent of annual budgetary allocations to the sector to enhance its development.
He said that the release of only 4.28 per cent in 2018 and previous years was counter productive did not augur well for the sector.
Chairman of the committee, Mr Mathias Okpanachi in his remarks also emphasized the need for timely release of funds for the sector saying that agricultural activities were time and season bound and once carried out of season, yields would be adversely affected.
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