EBONYI-Stakeholders in the Agricultural Sector, yesterday, raised an alarm over the non-inclusion of specific budget line items for Smallholders Women Farmers and Youths in Ebonyi State’s 2020 budget.
They lamented that Smallholder farmers, who are producers of over 70% of the food consumed in Nigeria, were not currently involved in the Agriculture budgeting processes in the State.
This, according to them, will not only lead to Government not being able to tap from the Agricultural potentials of these farmers (especially women and youths), but also, pave way for low productivity in the Sector.
This was contained in a Communiqué reached during the Ebonyi State 2021 Agriculture Budget Consultative meeting with representatives of Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) at the Office of Participatory Development Alternatives, PDA, in Afikpo North Local Government Area of the State.
Other stakeholders from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ebonyi State Agricultural Development Programme (EBADEP), Ministry of Finance, Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation, EBBC and CSOs, joined the meeting through zoom from different parts of the State.
The programme which was organised by PDA with support from ActionAid Nigeria, through the Public Financing for Agriculture (PFA) project, highlighted the challenges faced by the sector to include, non-compliance to the 10% National Annual Budget for Agriculture as provided for, in the Maputo/Malabo Declaration; a lack of timely passage and full release of budgeted funds for agricultural development.
According to them: “During the analysis of the 2020 Agriculture Budget of Ebonyi State, and Stakeholders consultative meetings, participants made the following observations as core issues to be addressed in the 2021 agriculture budget:
“The gender responsiveness of the Agriculture Budget is insufficient as there is no specific budget line items for women farmers and youths. This limits the application of funds to issues faced by them, thereby making tracking of such line items very challenging.
“The 2021 and subsequent years agriculture budget should be gender sensitive and responsive by providing line items that address specific challenges that affect women farmers different from men as well as creating budget lines for women farmers and other groups such as youths.
“That there is huge investment in procurement of heavy expensive machines that are not always appropriate to the needs of the users and unsuitable for the topography and size of land cultivated by smallholder farmers, especially, women. These technologies are also hard to maintain and usually
gets dumped when faults develop, leading to wastage.
“The stakeholders’ consultative meeting should be taken as an integral part of the budgeting process across all the MDAs in the Agriculture Sector both at State and LGA levels, as it is productive, and allows stakeholders to make inputs in the pre-budget discussions promoting citizens’ ownership within the sector.
“For 2021 and subsequent years, agriculture
budgeting and other policy-making processes, a strategy for involving and mainstreaming the concerns of smallholder farmers should be developed. For example, leaders
of women farmer organizations and other smallholder farmers, vulnerable groups such as farmers living with disabilities, and CSOs should be invited to budget preparatory meetings before the release of Budget Call Circulars.
“There should be political will to allocate at least 10% of annual budgets and actuals of revenues to the Agriculture Sector to increase the realization of the Maputo and Malabo benchmarks for agricultural investment. Additionally, given the time bound nature of farming activities, agricultural budgets must be released on time and fully to enable farmers plant in due season.
“There should be a scale up of investment in types of public spending that has been shown by evidence to yield better economic outcomes. This includes support for smallholder farmers especially Women and Youths in Agriculture,
Promotion and Development of Value chains, Agricultural Finance/Credit, agricultural Insurance, Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS), Livelihood (LIFE Programme), Farm Inputs, Extension Services, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA)/Agroecology, Agricultural Mechanisation (Appropriate Labour Saving Technologies), Research and Development, Monitoring and Evaluation, as well as Coordination.
“The implementation of Agricultural projects in the budget needs to be monitored by all relevant stakeholders such as Ebonyi State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Ebonyi Ministry of Budget, Planning, Research and Monitoring; Ministry of Finance; and Agriculture Committees in the State Assembly, and reports documented, shared and reviewed to enhance
lessons learning and improvement in budget implementation.
“Ebonyi State Ministry of Agriculture and other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) should create a budget line to continue the implementation of the Consultative meeting annually.”
The Communiqué was specifically endorsed By the Organizations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies, and Institutes that participated in the 2021 Agriculture Budget Stakeholders Consultative meeting including Participatory Development Alternatives (PDA) Small-scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) Initiative for Social Change in Africa (VOFCA) Loving Hands Initiative (LHI) Ndubuisi Amaelu Amuro Cooperative, Women in Agriculture, Oso-Edda Branch
Virtuous Women Cooperative, Isu Ebonyi State CSOs Budget Working Group Advocacy for Accountability and Inclusion in Africa, Ebonyi State Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Civill Resource Development and Documentation (CIRDDOC), Ebonyi State Agriculture Development Programme (EBADEP), Ebonyi Broadcasting Corporation (EBBC).