Key stakeholders at the ongoing 2nd Daily Trust Agriculture Conference and Expo are of the opinion that the present budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector by the federal government can not address the many challenges facing the sector.
Those who spoke at the confab’s interactive session particularly frowned at the 2017 budgetary allocation, which they said was still less than one percent of the total budget.
Leading the session, Mr. S.J. Samuel, Group Executive Chairman of VegeFresh Group, said the sector was facing lots of challenges including un-organised market structure, absence of good inputs and poor infrastructure among others which required huge budgetary allocation.
“There is disconnect in government policies towards agriculture, because they said agriculture is their slogan but allocated less than 1% in the recently released budget to the sector. How will this address the numerous challenges facing the long neglected sector,”? he asked.
As part of solutions to the problem, Mr. Samuel advised that proper coordination of the value chain should be carried out, adding that the private sector could key in and contribute to the budgetary needs of agriculture under certain agreement with the government.
“Currently, Nigeria imports food worth 23 billion USD (N1.5 trillion), contributing 3 billion USD to the country’s export earnings, unlike in the 70s when agriculture contributed up to 70% to the country’s export earnings,” he said.
Mr. Samuel recalled that about 15 tomato factories have since closed down operations in the country, his factory inclusive.
Narrating a personal experience, he also recalled how they tried to acquire a factory among the ailing factories but found it impossible, adding that their farms also had to close down because of security challenges in the North.
On infrastructure, he stated that previous policies were put in place to stimulate agriculture but the linkages were not well coordinated as such people that went into dector ran at a loss.