By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI—STAKEHOLDERS in the agricultural sector in Ebonyi state have called on the present administration to increase the sector’s budgetary allocation for 2020 to accommodate Small Holders Women Farmers and Youths in the State.
They made the demand in Abakiliki at an event tagged: “Ebonyi State 2019 Agriculture Budget Analysis” put together by Participatory Development Alternatives, PDA, in collaboration with Action Aid Nigeria.
The incensement, according to the Director of Agricultural Services of Ebonyi State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs. Okoro Juliet, would not only guarantee food sufficiency but also ensure participation of more farmers in the agricultural programmes and policies of the State.
Drawn from Civil Society Organizations, Small Holders Women farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture both state and federal, noted the need for agricultural facilities to be evenly distributed to both men and women without any form of bias.
They recommended that the “Government should include specific budget lines for smallholder women farmers in a supplementary budget and in the 2020 agriculture budget and that the State Government should invest more in agriculture by increasing budget allocation to agriculture”.
They commended the Government for increasing its budget in agriculture by 0.4% in 2019, it is yet to meet the 10% Maputo benchmark.
“The Government should release approved budgets and on time. Non-release of approved budgets hinders the development of agriculture in the State. Government should also include specific budget lines for youths in agriculture in the 2020 agriculture budget.
“Government should provide grants and/or loans to smallholder women farmers who most of the time do not have guarantors. Government should subsidize farm inputs for rural farmers and ensure their access.
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“Government should create a forum for consultation and participation of smallholder women farmer organizations and Civil Society Organizations in the agriculture budget preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes.