Stakeholders at the ActionAid 2022 budget analysis meeting held in Abuja recently has called on the management of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to ensure the total amounts should be released to ensure the reduction of postharvest losses.
Commending the ministry for specific allocations to tackle postharvest losses, stakeholders strongly recommended effective coordination with the relevant agencies and Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment to support the reduction of post-harvest losses across Nigeria.
It said budget for postharvest losses reduction support which include processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, etc. and access to market.
Nigeria’s estimated postharvest losses to be about N3.5 trillion annually.
“Essentially, the role of the main ministry is to monitor and supervise the activities of the other MDAs in the sector. Therefore, we draw attention to the issue of results and their impact on sectoral development meaning that implementers of the budget of all MDAs should ensure that projects are monitored with findings used to improve budget/project implementation and accurate data for the CAADP Biennial Reporting of Nigeria to the African Union.
“The first capital line item for FMARD is the provision and installation of solar powered streetlight in rural communities in the 6 geopolitical zones which appeared in 2021 for 720 million and in 2022 for 745 million. Going forward, it
would be good to have the locations of these projects even if it is argued that those installations are for different locations.
“The above represents some of the spurious methods in which budgets are cast. The 2022 budget contains many of such budget lines that are repetitive, over-bloated, unclear and very challenging to monitor or evaluate. Most times the budget crafters purposely lump up activities in the budget lines just to make it difficult for even the best discerners to track and monitor the expenditure. These occur not only in the capital budget but also in the recurrent especially the overheads. The import of these in an economy that is grappling with over 70% of its population living below the poverty line is that funds that would have been efficiently and effectively used to provide services to citizens are lost. For monitoring purposes, a budget line item should answer questions of: what, who, where, how, when and why? Any that fails in these is questionable,” the meeting stated.
It further called for the timely release of agricultural budgets knowing that most Agricultural activities are seasonal and is determined by climatic condition which varies from South to the Northern part of Nigeria.
The stakeholders urged the federal government to legislate on warehousing funds for the agriculture sector to mitigate the effect of untimely release of fund.
“We therefore call on Federal Executives and the National Assembly to Scale Up Public Investment in Agriculture. Ensure timely consideration, passage, and total budget releases as a strategic approach to increase food production, reduce hunger and poverty and achieve the Maputo/Malabo Commitment.
“Public investment in agriculture
agriculture should be scaled up in the specific areas of Extension Services, Access to Credit, Women in Agriculture, Youth in Agriculture, Appropriate Labour-Saving Technologies, Inputs, Post-Harvest Losses Reduction Supports (processing facilities, storage facilities, trainings, market access, etc.), and Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology.”
It suggested that the ministry of agriculture should create a yearly budget line labeled ‘Strengthening Access to Credit’ that is dedicated to handholding farmers such as women, youths and farmers living with disability cooperatives to access existing CBN agricultural credit facilities through a specialised team or consultancy firm which prepares their business proposals, interfaces, and negotiates with BOA, Bank of Industry, NIRSAL, commercial and microfinance banks, etc.
The meeting further called for allocation of more funds to the implementing agencies to effectively carry out their functions and that government should ensure that capital appropriations are adequately funded.
“Looking back over the years, budget performance has been very poor especially in the release of funds to carry out implementation. Only about 20% of the capital budget is being released while almost 100% of recurrent expenditure is used. This means that the salaries and emoluments paid to staff do not match their outputs,” the review revealed.