Agricultural stakeholders in Bauchi State have observed a decrease of 0.4 per cent, equivalent to N19,747,560,714.39, in the 2023 agricultural budget, saying that the sector is experiencing fluctuation in allocation for the past seven years, which has rendered the attainment of the 10 per cent Malabo declaration for agriculture unreliable.
The stakeholders disclosed this recently during a one-day consultative meeting to deliberate on the 2023 budget performance at the office of the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP) conference hall in Bauchi.
The Chairperson of Bauchi Budget Committee Group, Mrs. Tabawa Atiku, and the State Chairperson Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria, Ms. Marka Abaas who addressed the Press in Bauchi shortly after the consultative meeting, stated that the budget committee group on agriculture working to curb poverty, promote social justice and gender equality and budgetary process, deemed it fit to draw the attention of the state government to the low allocations to the agricultural sector of the state and the poor participation of Smallholder women farmers in the budgetary process.
The meeting was organised by the Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative in collaboration with Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with support from Action-Aid Nigeria.
In a communiqué at the end of the meeting, the stakeholders drawn from the relevant government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), farmer organisations, civil society organisations, House Committee on Agriculture and Appropriation of the State House of Assembly and the media, praised the Bauchi State Government and other stakeholders for their unrelenting efforts towards deploying funding strategies to improve the growth in the agricultural products of the state based on comparative advantage.
However, they said that poor funding, delayed or non-release of funds meant for the sector by the government has practically hindered growth in the sector over the years, pointing out that the sum of N5.4 billion was allocated to the agricultural sector for the year 2023 out of the total sum of N202.6 billion budget allocation for the state, making it difficult to achieve the 10 percent Malabo declaration and the SDG goals 1, 2 and 3 unachievable at the state level.
The stakeholders then observed that the 2023 agricultural budget did not capture any allocation in respect to extension services, which in turn will weaken the extension service department of the ministry, adding that the budget line for value chain decreased from N50 million in the year 2022 to N20 million for the year 2023.
The extension services of the government, they recommended, should be strengthened by recruiting new extension agents, building their capacities and providing them with incentives and facilities necessary for their effectiveness in order to meet the one extension worker to 3,000 ratio in the field.
The communique also noted that smallholder women farmers who are known for the production of over 60 per cent food consumed in the state are facing series of hard times caused by natural disasters such as flooding, cashless policy and hike in fuel that cut across the entire nation, leading to high cost of market prices of agricultural inputs such fertilizers, saving technologies, seedlings, that has hampered the productivity of women farmers in the state.