Non-governmental organisations are querying the performance of the agric sector in Bauchi state, saying that budgetary allocations to the sector has not met the recommendation of Maputo declaration over the years. Writes NAJIB SANI.
Bauchi is an agricultural state with total land area of 49, 119 Km representing about 5.3 per cent of Nigeria’s total land mass. The state has about 4.2 million hectares of cultivable land.
Its vast fertile soil is an added advantage for agricultural products which includes maize, rice, millet, groundnuts, cassava and beans.
But the question has been that despite all these, the state has not properly harnessed its agricultural potentials for economic development.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) in the state known as ‘Fahimta Youth and Women Development Initiative’ (FAWOYDI) who reviews annual agricultural budget and implementation in the state laments that despite having about 4.2 million hectares of cultivable land, only 1.8 million hectares are currently being cultivated in the state.
A grim performance
Speaking recently while presenting an analysis of the 2019 Bauchi state agriculture budget, the chairperson of public financing agriculture (PFA) budget committee set up by FAWOYDI in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria, Mrs Tabawa Atiku, noted that although Nigeria is signatory to the Maputo declaration of 2003 which recommended the allocation of, at least, 10 per cent of annual budgets to agriculture, the country and its states have fallen short of the 10 per cent commitment.
She explained that the Maputo declaration which was signed 13 years ago by heads of governments in Africa as parts of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) was aimed at ensuring food security on the continent.
Mrs Atiku opined that if the state can harness the potential of its farmers of which small holder women farmers consist of 60 per cent cultivation level in the state, it will result in double of crop and animal production thereby improving food security, wealth creation, employment and general economic growth in the state as well as alleviating poverty.
According to her, the total budget of the year 2019 is N196, 722, 411, 436 billion where the sum of N10, 796, 526, 905 billion was allocated to agriculture which represents six per cent and less than the recommended 10 per cent.
“The Bauchi state 2019 agriculture budget has witnessed a decrease from 7.1 per cent in 2018 to six per cent in 2019 which shows a difference in the previous budget. In this vein, the goal of achieving the 10 per cent Maputo declaration which represents the accepted African states benchmark has become a challenge which will affect the nation’s rating at the national and international level. The Maputo declaration allows for a minimum of, at least, 10 per cent of the total national and state budgets to be allocated to agriculture.
“The above trend analysis of percentage allocation to agriculture has clearly shown that the allocation to the sector from 2014 to 2019 fiscal years has been constantly fluctuating (going up and down) on a yearly basis, which shows lack of political will by the state government towards boosting the sector’s allocation.
“The allocation to the sector in 2014 which was 4.32 per cent dropped to its lowest point of 3.98 per cent in 2015 and increased to 7.05 per cent in 2016 and also dropped to 4.65 per cent in 2017. But in 2018, an increase was made to the allocation to reach its highest point of 7.1 per cent with the hope of envisaging an increase in the year following, but the reverse was the case in 2019 fiscal year as the allocation still dropped by 1.1 per cent from the previous year,” she pointed out.
She, however, observed that the purchase of 15, 000 tons of assorted fertiliser by the government will go a long way in supporting farmers to access fertiliser at affordable rate, the promotion of the anchor borrower’s programme by the state, she said, will also help to boost agricultural activities and ensure that more small scale farmers at the rural areas are engaged.
The NGO, therefore, recommended that the state government should honour the Maputo declaration in the light of diversifying the economy and wealth creation for the state, direct budget allocation should also be made specifically for the women in agriculture since their strength in agriculture is about 60 per cent.
Other recommendations include recruiting new extension agents, building their capacity, proving them with incentives and facilities necessary for their effectiveness in the field, that the state ministry of agriculture should collaborate with the state college of agriculture to judiciously utilise graduating students to achieve human development capacity at 100 per cent maximum capacity so that they can give their inputs especially new technologies in agriculture.
“We also recommend that there should be cash backing and timely releases of funds for the implementation of programmes/projects in the capital expenditure to ensure agricultural growth and productivity in the state.”
Speaking further she said, “There is need to fast track the completion of the state agricultural policies and framework that will provide a good anchor and basis for formulation and implementation,” she advised.
This is just as the NGO called on the state house of assembly committee on agriculture to enhance its oversight functions and mandate over the management of public funds in the sector to guarantee greater value for money.