N138bn agric budget: FG not serious to diversify economy ― Stakeholders

Stakeholders in the agricultural sector have said the government hasn’t shown seriousness to diversify the economy from oil dominated economy to non-oil economy.

These reactions came when Nigerian Tribune spoke with the stakeholders over the N138 billion budget proposal for agriculture which President Muhammadu Buhari presented to the National Assembly recently.

The stakeholders said if the government were serious to diversify the economy, more money would have been allocated to the agricultural sector.

The National President, Oil Palm Growers Association of Nigeria, Igwe Hilary Uche said if the government were serious with agriculture, the budgetary allocation should not be reviewed downwards, instead, it should be going up.

“It appears they have not really know what agriculture will do to this country, because sometimes they will behave as if they have awaken to develop agriculture but they are just paying lip service to the sector.

“If they are serious in agriculture, its budget should be higher than any other thing, even if it’s not higher. It shouldn’t be going down instead it should be going up for improvement and expansion”, Uche said.

Recall that in 2018, the budgetary allocation to agriculture was N203 billion, in 2019, it dropped to N138 billion, while in 2020 it maintained the N138 billion.

Also, the National President Cocoa Farmers Association of Nigeria (CFAN), Adeola Adegoke said it’s pertinent for the National Assembly to sit with the Executive and see reasons why more funds should be allocated to the agricultural sector

“When you look at it, if we are serious with our diversification, a large percentage is supposed to be allocated to agriculture. Like we have seen the statistics, there is a downward reduction in the allocation to agriculture.

“There are a lot of issues that needed attention in the agricultural sector and I believe that what the executive presented is not encouraging, at the same time we still believe that the National Assembly should see how they would seat with the Executive and see reasons why there should be more funding for agriculture”, he added.

The President of Poultry Association of Nigeria (PAN), Mr Ezekiel Mam while speaking with journalists, said the N83 billion allocated for capital projects in for the Ministry of the 2020 budget was below expectation.

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He said by the virtue of the importance of agriculture to all human endeavours, it should have be  allotted the highest amount.

He said developed countries like the US were food sufficient because they put more money into agriculture adding that,  Nigeria must emulate them for there to be food sufficiency in the country.

He said,” the budget is below expectation. Agriculture should be given more money because most subsectors like poultry are capital intensive.

“Whatever you do if you do not have food you are vulnerable. So, for us as an association, Agric should have the highest budget.

“Soviet Union collapsed because of the lack of food sufficiency, so, whatever we do without feeding our people, we will end up creating security and health concerns”.

 

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