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Senate Seeks 10% Budget Allocation To Agriculture To Ensure Food Security

The Nigerian Senate has urged the federal government to allocate at least 10% of the total annual budget revenue to agricultural production, amidst concerns of food security.

Salihu Mustapha, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Production made this call in a joint budget defense session of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security on Monday.

He emphasized the sector’s potential to lead millions out of poverty and contribute significantly to the nation’s GDP.

Despite the agricultural sector’s vital role, Mustapha expressed concern that budget allocations fell short of the 10% commitment made under the Maputo declaration.

He, however, said that despite the challenges, the sector remained the largest contributor to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from the non-oil sector with over 20 per cent.

He decried that the budget allocation to the sector remained a far cry from the 10 per cent of the nation’s budget by the Maputo declaration, to which Nigeria had committed.

“The agricultural sector has the largest potential to lead millions of Nigerians out of poverty and provide much-needed food security. It is, therefore, imperative that the sector should be given the utmost priority in national economic policies and future budgets. I, therefore, call on the executive to exercise the political will to allocate at least 10 per cent of the national budgets and revenues to the agriculture sector,” Mustapha said.

Mustapha commended efforts to revert to a Jan. to Dec. budget cycle, noting its benefits for both the public and private sectors. He assured the committee’s commitment to treating the budget process with urgency and responsibility.

In a related development, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari, revealed that the Naira re-design policy, carried out by the Central Bank of Nigeria from December 15, 2022, to early February, adversely affected farmers, leading to a cash crunch and forcing them to sell produce at low prices.

Kyari attributed the policy’s impact, combined with factors like insecurity, to a threat to food security.

Kyari, however, assured lawmakers that the high rate of hunger in the country would be addressed after they painted a grim picture of daily hunger-related deaths, urging swift action to prevent a total famine.

The minister assured that all threats to food security would be addressed in the 2024 fiscal year. He outlined action plans, including securing farmlands, reviewing fertilizer delivery mechanisms, fast-tracking the National Agricultural Development Fund, and implementing joint action plans for irrigation potential.

“The cash crunch caused by the Naira re-design made most of the farmers sell their farm produce at giveaway prices for survival since buyers couldn’t access cash to buy the produce from them. The policy which coincided with harvest season, ended rendering the farmers empty financially “, he said.

For the 2024 fiscal year, a total of N362.940 billion was earmarked for the agricultural sector, with N124.1 billion allocated to the Ministry.

The breakdown includes N10.6 billion for personnel costs, N1.34 billion for overhead and N112.497 billion for capital expenditure.

Source: https://businessday.ng/news/article/food-security-senate-seeks-10-budget-allocation-to-agriculture/

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