The Nigeria Association of Agricultural Economists, NAAE, has advised that the nation may not actualize its paradigm shift to agriculture if the country’s agricultural budget was not beefed up.
The National President of NAAE, Professor Peter Okuneye, gave the advice yesterday, while flagging off the 17th Annual National Conference of the Association at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri, FUTO. Okuneye said: “As at today, available data shows that not much has been done to agriculture, particularly in the area of budgeting and critical needs for rural and agricultural development.”
He recalled that between 2008 and 2012, federal agricultural capital budget declined from N7.19 billion to N5.45 billion, and that the actual spending nosedived from N7 billion to N4.6 billion. “If these low budgets continue, there will be continuity of low agricultural investments and the scenario will not augur well for the country,” Professor Okuneye said. He was not particularly happy that “since the coming of the Buhari/Osinbajo-led Federal Government, we are yet to see any significant deviation or change from this trend” of low budgeting.
The NAAE President advised that “agricultural projects must be properly conceived, implemented, or the existing ones re-organised and financed, monitored and efficiently managed.” Okuneye assured that participants will be taken round “evidence-based papers, describing the types of agricultural projects that will take us out of recession.”
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Vice Chancellor of FUTO, Professor Francis Eze, opined that “the present re-awakening to the role of agriculture in economic growth and prosperity portends some good for the nation, if and only if this is not paid lip service, but rather pursued with all seriousness by government and private individuals.” Eze also advised that policy documents and road maps to improving the sector be developed and implemented to the last single detail.