…as MDGs agric intervention rises to N18bn
By Victoria Ojeme
ABUJA — The Federal Government said it has spent over N300 billion in the development of the nation’s agricultural sector in the last three years.
The Minister of State for Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Awodele Adewale, who disclosed this, weekend, said the increased budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector was part of measures to boost food production in the country.
Speaking during the closing ceremony of this year’s National Agricultural Show, the Minister who represented President Goodluck Jonathan, however, regretted the negative impact of the global economic recession on government efforts to stimulate food production in Nigeria.
Also, the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, has intervened in the drive to increase the nation’s food production capacity with over N18 billion.
Adewale while explaining government’s expenditure profile in the nation’s agriculture sector said, between 2007 and 2009, government funding increased from 7% to 12%, in addition to a $2 billion funding facility.
In the breakdown of expenditure on agriculture, Adewale said N63.27 billion was spent on capital projects, while N113 billion and N138 billion were budgeted for agriculture in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
He stated that the increased budgetary allocation was intended as intervention in the critical areas of strengthening agricultural business through a guaranteed minimum price, strengthening farmers support group, including co-operative society, increased assess to credit finance and improvement of rural access and infrastructure.
Other key programmes on which the funding have been used, the minister added, include, agricultural credit guarantee scheme, commercial agriculture credit scheme, disposable intervention fund for agriculture, among others.
He stated further that, government has also drawn from the 1.6% natural resources development fund from the federation allocation account to fast track the implementation of programmes crucial to the success of government policies on agriculture.
Some of these programmes, according to the minister, include the construction and rehabilitation of silos across the country and a public/private partnership scheme in the provision of tractors.