From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Kogi Budget Committee Group (BCG) has called on the state government to scale up its public investments in Agriculture as a strategic approach to increase food production, reduce hunger, poverty and insecurity.
The Committee which made the call in a communique issued at the end of Kogi State Budget Committee Advocacy Summit held on Wednesday in Lokoja said Agriculture had direct impact on every facet of the national economy.
Our Correspondent, reports that the summit was organised ActionAid Nigeria in collaboration with its local rights partner, Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID).
The group noted this would also help achieve the Maputo/Malabo commitment of 10 per cent budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector as approved by the 44th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD).
The communique urged the government to consider scaling up investments in the specific areas of Agric extension services, access to credit facilities, women and youths in agriculture and appropriate labour-saving technologies.
It also suggested other areas as inputs, post-harvest loss reduction support, training, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, agroecology research and development, monitoring and evaluation as well as coordination.
The Group also urged the state government to put in place an Agricultural Policy, create awareness and sensitisation on the policy as part of efforts to promote improved citizens’ participation in budgeting processes.
The communique said that the existing relationship between the state government and non-state actors should be strengthened in the bid to promote accountability and transparency in public resource management.
The Group advocated more gender-responsive agricultural budgeting through provision of items for the implementation of the National Gender Policy in Agriculture and reiterated the need to involve more smallholder women farmers in budget planning discussions.
The communique underscored the need for a State Investment Plan for the Agriculture sector utilising Public Private Partnership (PPP) windows in alignment with the National Economic Policy and development plans.
It further urged that against non timely releases of budgetary allocations to the Agriculture sector, MDA’s needed to itemise their priorities and give a proper timeline that synchronise with the farming seasons.
The committee had earlier observed that non releases of allocated funds to the Agriculture sector had continued to impede the capacity of the state government to drive socio-economic development including food security within the policy thrust of the diversification of the economy towards agriculture.
Our Correspondent, reports that the Budget Committee Group, an offshot of the Public Financing for Agriculture (PFA) draws its membership from Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), the Media as well as Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON).