Kogi House of Assembly to streghten agriculture through budgetary means

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Kogi State may begin gradual investments in the Agric sector and this may be driven by the parliament. This is because state’s House of Assembly has pledged to improve the percentage budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector of the state come 2019 towards attainment of the 2003 Maputo Declaration  which stipulates  a minimum of 10 per cent.

The chairman, House Committee on Agriculture, Abdulkareem Kekere-Sani (APC-Okehi)  disclosed this during the parliamentary briefing and presentation of the 2018 Kogi Agriculture sector budget analysis on Monday in Lokoja.

The programme was organised by the state Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Budget Committee supported by ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID).

Kekere-Sani stated that the House would ensure tremendous improvement on the current percentage of 6.56 to enhanced agricultural production, diversification of the economy and self-sufficiency in food come   2019 budget.

He also said Gov. Yahaya Bello led administration was committed to the overall improvement in the agriculture sector especially smallholder farmers and women participation in agricultural activities.

Kekere-Sani equally stressed that the parliamentary briefing and presentation of the analysis will  afford the members the opportunity to ascertain need areas and called on all stakeholders to come together and right the wrongs in the sector before 2019.

Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroots Advancement (INGRA),  Hamza Aliyu ,  while presenting the 2018 Agriculture sector budget analysis and recommendations for 2019 disclosed that Nigeria had over 80 million hectares of arable land out of which only 40 per cent was being utilised, adding  that the nation’s population of over 180 million people made her Africa’s largest agricultural market but lamented that little effort was being made by goverment at all levels to fully exploit the naturally endowed agricultural potentials.

Aliyu also stressed that the country was yet to implement the 2003 Maputo Declaration to which it remained a signatory with a commitment to allocate at least 10 per cent of its annual Budget to Agriculture.

He said “Other sectors that drive the socio-economic development of the State such as Education with 11.93 per cent, Health with 8.78 per cent, Government House with 17.47 per cent, Works and Housing with 13.55 per cent were placed above Agriculture.”

Although there was a consistent increase from 2.7 per cent in 2016; 4.53 per cent, 2017 and 6.56 per cent in 2018, it was still less than the Maputo Challenge of accepted International benchmark set for African Nations”.

In his contribution,  Edoko Moses-Ododo (APC-Dekina-Biraidu), a member of the House committee on Agriculture called for timely presentation of the budgets to enable it undergo proper legislative processes and early passage.

Also contributing, Victor Omofaiye (APC-Ijumu) stated that there ought to be a tripartite arrangement between the Executive, Legislature and the NGOs as stakeholders, to identify the challenges and address them appropriately.

Also in speaking, Gift Omoniwa, ActionAid Project Manager and Executive Director,  PIBCID stated that the  meeting was imperative to enable annual budgets to the sector make better impacts on agricultural practices farmers in the state.