Stakeholders have urged the Delta State Governor, Arthur Ifeanyi Okowa and the Delta State House of Assembly to scale up public investment in agriculture.
The stakeholders also said the legislative house should also ensure timely consideration, passage and total budget releases as a strategic approach to increase food production, reduce hunger and poverty.
This was contained in a communique issued at the end of a one-day public financing for agriculture budget committee advocacy (PFA-BCA) summit organized by the Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre, ENVIRUMEDIC, in collaboration with the Budget Committee Group, BCG, Delta State.
The communique, endorsed by twenty seven Civil Society Groups was read by Olorogun Monday Ogheneruona Itoghor, Pastor Edewor Egedegbe and Oso Faith.
They said, “Public investment in 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, training, market access,etc), climate resilient sustainable agriculture, agro-ecology, research and development, monitoring and evaluation, as well as coordination.
“The state ministry of agriculture should create awareness/sensitization of stakeholders on the new agricultural policy as part of effort towards promoting improved citizen participation in budget process.
“The existing relationship between the State Government and the Non-States actors should be strengthened in a bid to promote accountability and transparency in public resource management.
“There is a need to bring more smallholder farmers to the front of the Budget planning discussion at the state level. Women need to be brought side by side their male counterpart in the discussion and planning of agricultural budget and its implementation.
“The yearly state agriculture budget should be more gender responsive by providing line items for the implementation of the National Gender Policy in agriculture that address specific challenges that affect women farmers different from men as well as avoid lumping up budget for women farmers and other groups such as youths.
“There is need to have stable investment plan for the agricultural sector. Such plan will highlight the commitment of the state, PPP windows and their alignment to the state economic policy and development plans.
“As approved by the 14th National Council on Agriculture and Rural Development (NCARD), the three tiers of government should commit 10% of their annual budget to the agriculture sector to meet the 10% Maputo/Malabo declaration required to support at least 6% growth rate for the sector as postulated in the CAADP framework.
“For improved CAADP biennial reporting to the AUC, there should be continuous adoption of the use of CAADP/Malabo indicators at state level and capacity building of state level stakeholders on the CAADP/Malabo performance indicators.
“In the light of poor budget releases, MDAs need to itemise their priorities and give proper timeline that synchronizes with farmers and farm season. Without such timed budget, capital budget releases may not be coming at the time when farmers need them.
“Considering the agricultural risk, rising insecurity in farms;farm raiding, cattle destructions and kidnappers,climate and other natural disasters, farmers are not encouraged to continue farm practices without risk covers. Hence,both the state government should promote the enrollment of agricultural insurance policies for smallholder farmers while challenging the poor security issues that threatens our farms.”
While appreciating the media, the stakeholders urged them to increase their collaboration with the civil society groups in promoting increased investment in agriculture.
According to them, “The state government is urged to respect the FOI Act and provide access to budget information.
“Strengthen the monitoring of implementation of Agricultural projects in the budget by relevant stakeholders such as the Ministry of Agriculture and agriculture committees in the state assembly, farmers and CSOs.
“Capacity building synergy between the Ministry of Agriculture and relevant stakeholders in order to achieve continuous update and development towards ensuring proper implementation and interpretation of the yearly budget.”
The communique was endorsed by the Health Real Initiative for Valued Entrepreneurship(THRIVE), Value Rebirth and Empowerment Initiative (VREI), Nobel Delta Women for Peace and Development International, Initiative for Peace and Sustainability (IPAS), Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC), African Centre for Environmental and Rural Development (ACERD), Community Empowerment and Development Initiative (CEDI), Development Initiative for Community impact (DICI), Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), One Love Community Development Initiative, Hands2Help International Foundation (H2H), Entrepreneurship Skills for Initiative for Peace and Development, Eziodu Initiative for Sustainable Environmental Development (ESISED), Greensphere Initiative and Free Life Initiative, among others.