The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) says it will begin monitoring implementation of agricultural budget in the country to facilitate accountability.
Chief Daniel Okafor, the Vice President of the association, told Newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday, that the budget monitoring would be done in all the states of the federation.
The vice president was reacting to the 2018 appropriation bill which was assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday.
According to him, the monitoring is to ensure that real farmers in the rural areas are reached and also benefit from the implementation.
“We thank the President for signing the budget but in another way, we are not happy as farmers because farming is time bound. We have farmers that only do rain- fed agriculture.
“Yes, the budget has been signed but what we are talking about is the implementation. How is it going to be implemented?
“Without monitoring the budget, it will be like the budget of previous years where you give the farmers what they need at the wrong time.
“I believe it is time farmers speak out because it is in their own constituency when agricultural budget is mentioned.
“It is not only the Ministry of Agriculture that we are talking about in the budget.
“We will monitor the implementation of budget of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies that concerns agriculture.
“We will look into it and see that the budget is being implemented so that farmers will enjoy just like their counterparts in other countries,’’ he explained.
Dr TundeArosanyin, the National Coordinator, Zero Hunger Commodity Farmers advised the government to avoid gaps during the budget implementation especially as it concerned agriculture.
Arosanyin, who is also the National Technical Adviser of AFAN, said that allocation to the agriculture sector was 3.2 per cent which was less than the 10 per cent budget agreed during the Maputo declaration of 2003.
“The budget of 2018 signed today is rather coming too late.
“Agriculture is tied to time and weather so the budget may not be fully released by that time, the rain will be winding down in the north and the middle belt which is the hub of agriculture production.
“Nevertheless, it is advisable to avoid leakage at implementation by meeting the farmers at farm gate with input, credit and market,’’ he said.
Mr Nnimmo Bassey, an agriculture and environmental expert said that paucity of fund in the agriculture sector was capable of causing delay in plans of the agriculture ministry.
Bassey called for robust investment to revive and empower extension officers to provide the needed support to our farmers especially smallholder farmers who the masses depended on for food.
He also advised the government to also invest in soil-enriching agro-ecological farming methods to shift away from food production that depended on toxic chemicals, artificial fertilisers and unnatural genetic modified seeds.
“It is not helpful that annual budget gets signed when the year has gone half way. With the allocation to agriculture, Nigeria has not started to view the sector in the light of the 2003 Maputo Declaration of the African Union.
“With the paucity of allocation to the sector, it is likely that whatever ideas the agriculture and rural development ministry may have drawn up will remain mere pipe dreams.
“This is the time that government needs to increase support for agricultural research institutions, getting them to research, develop and protect indigenous crops to ensure that promoters of corporate interests in the seed sector are not allowed a rough shod ride over food sovereignty,’’ he said. (NAN)