Head, Influencing and Public Engagement, OXFAM, Dr. Saratu Abiola, has condemned the lip service given to the agriculture, saying the noise made about increasing number of farmers does not tally with output.
She noted that only 3.2 per cent of Nigeria’s budget was dedicated to agriculture, whereas the Malabo Treaty, which Nigeria is a signatory stipulates 10 per cent.
“Looking closely at the budget, only one per cent is for irrigation and it is said that in Nigeria, there is one extension worker to 10,000 farmers.
“Two per cent of the agriculture budget is dedicated to extension workers, two per cent to access to quality seeds and inputs, while a whopping 35 per cent is for payment of salaries.
“What this means is that the inputs that make agriculture work for smallholder farmers who constitute 80 per cent of the sector, is not getting the right attention. We are not acting as if agriculture is important and there is no improvement in the quality of output.”
She maintained that government is aware of the nation’s food challenge, adding that lack of proper monitoring has created room for poor policy implementation, diversion of funds meant for the sector, among others.
“When we talk of the right to food, we are talking of our people preparing for shocks that would come from natural disasters and climate change. Things like irrigation and infrastructure have to be put in place to cushion the effect. Government, for instance, knows that the extension services are inadequate. It is not about individuals, but about making the system work.
“The fact that 0.7 per cent of the agriculture budget is dedicated to monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation says a lot about the level of seriousness attached to the sector.”