The Ebonyi government on Thursday said that it would carefully consider increasing the budgetary allocation to Agriculture to five per cent in the 2024 budget.
Gov. Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi, stated this when he received stakeholders in Agriculture, who were on a sensitisation road walk to the Old Government House in Abakaliki.
The stakeholders were led on the walk by members of the Agriculture Budget Plus Cluster (ABPC).
Nwifuru, who was represented by Mr Timothy Nwachi, his Deputy Chief of Staff, said that the sensitisation campaign was commendable, given the need for food security.
He noted that currently in the 2023 fiscal year, 2.3 per cent was allocated to the Agricultural Sector.
The governor said that an increase in agricultural budgetary allocation would help the state to improve its capacity to increase production in rice and other agricultural produce.
He said: “By the latest release from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ebonyi ranked fourth largest producer of rice among the rice-producing states in Nigeria.
“Having achieved this feat, an increase in agricultural budget will help the state to further improve on its capacity in terms of not just rice production but in other agricultural produce.
“I can only say that I’m standing here on behalf of the Ebonyi State Government to tell you that your message has been well received and that the document that has been handed over to me, we will sit down and look at it critically.”
Nwifuru stressed that the state government would do everything possible to ensure food availability, adding that agriculture would also be given its pride of place.
He said that his government was committed to sustaining the tempo on agricultural production.
He stated that increasing budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector would not only boost rice production but would also help the state to improve other aspects of farm production.
Earlier, Mr Eni Chima, the Team Lead and Programme Manager of the Agriculture Budget Plus Cluster in his address, thanked the state government for granting the group an audience.
Chima said that the roadwalk was designed to sensitise the public on the importance of engaging in agriculture as well as crave the indulgence of the government on the need to increase allocation to the agricultural sector by five per cent.
He requested an advocacy engagement with the governor to enable the group to discuss further the issue of boosting agricultural production in the state through improved funding.
Also, Mrs Nancy Oko-Onya, a member of the team, highlighted the need for an increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture, saying that Ebonyi was an agrarian state and reputed for rice and yam farming in Nigeria.
Oko-Onya, the executive director of the Neighbourhood Initiative for Women in Agriculture (NIWA), whose organisation was part of the cluster, said that all that they were asking for was that the Ebonyi government increase its allocation to agriculture by five per cent.
“Presently, what we are having is 2.3 per cent, so, we are asking for an additional 2.7 per cent to make the budgetary allocation to agriculture five per cent.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Agriculture Budget Plus Cluster is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Palladium-supported project. (NAN)