By Friday Idachaba, Lokoja.

ActionAid Nigeria, in collaboration with Kogi Budget Committee Group (BCG) has called on the state Government to review existing policies and framework on Agriculture to facilitate increased funding and prompt release of budgetary allocations to the sector.

Mr Hamza Aliyu, a member of the BCG made the call while presenting the Draft Analysis of  Kogi State 2023 Approved Agriculture Budget Estimates” at press conference on Thursday in Lokoja.

He noted that in the last 13 years, the highest annual budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector in the state was 6.6 per cent, a far cry from the 2003 Maputo Declaration of 10 per cent commitment.

The BCG decried the Budgetary allocation of N9.5 billion to the Agriculture sector representing 5.3 per cent for 2023 which he described as grossly inadequate.

“It is very disturbing that out of the N172 billion Kogi budget for 2023, Agriculture was allocated only 5.3 per cent becoming one of the least sectors”

“It is imperative that the Ministry of Agriculture reviews existing policies and prepares a coherent policy framework that incorporates the change agenda of the administration which will provide a good anchor and basis for budget formulation and implementation”, he said.

Aliyu also called for the development of an enabling environment and policy framework that would enable smallholder farmers, especially women, youths and farmers living with disability, easy access to credit on single-digit interest rates.

The Executive Director of INGRA commended the state government for the allocation of N600 million to Extension Services and provision for Post-harvest loses reduction intervention in the 2023 budget estimate.

He however reiterated the need to improve allocation for purchase of farm inputs such as fertilizers for subsidy farmers as well as increased funding for purchase of small milling machines and other labour+saving machines for smallholder farmers.

Aliyu further stressed that there was need for enhanced legislative oversight of the Agriculture sector, enhanced smallholder women farmers organisations and CSOs in the budget processes.

He also called for improved funding for Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology and improved allocation for research and development in the Agriculture Budget of the state.

Speaking earlier, Mr Mathias Okpanachi, Chairman of the state BCG, said the draft analysis of the 2023 approved Agriculture Budget Estimates was aimed at addressing the implementation gaps in previous agricultural budget allocations in the state.

He added that the analysis was also aimed at strengthening the group’s position in making inputs during the Public hearing of the Budget at the state House of Assembly to make the budget responsive to food security and wealth creation.

The Budget Committee Group (BCG) members were drawn from Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) and other Agriculture biased Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) operating in the state.

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