The Federal Government has underscored the need for proactive planning in all the programmes of the agricultural sector.
Mrs Nana Fatima Mede, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget and National Planning, conveyed the government’s position in Kaduna on Monday at the Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2018 Agriculture Budget.
Mede, who was represented by Mr Kayode Obasa, Director, Economic Growth, in the ministry, said that the need for pragmatic and proactive planning was because of the importance of the agricultural sector in the national economy.
She said that apart from contributing over 70 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), agriculture provided employment for a larger section of the citizenry.
She, however, noted that in terms of national income, agriculture was not playing a significant role, as proceeds from crude oil sales were the mainstay of the national economy.
Mede, therefore, lauded the stakeholders’ consultative meeting on the 2018 agriculture budget, saying that it was part of the proactive efforts of the ministry to ensure “that we get things right from the outset’’.
Also speaking, the Country Director of ActionAid Nigeria, Mr Ojobo Ode Atuluku, said that agriculture had the potential to grow and expand the nation’s economy.
Atuluku was represented by Mr Tunde Aremu, Action Aid’s Policy Advocacy and Campaigns Manager at the occasion.
Atuluku said that if the right investments had been made, over the years, to support smallholder farmers, the nation’s economy would not have slipped into recession.
‘‘Over the years, the country had failed to provide critical support to these farmers who feed the nation in the area of agricultural finance, farm inputs, extension services, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, labour-saving technologies and research and development.
‘‘Where these had been provided, they had been insufficient and with excessive overheads, unclear and wasteful allocations,’’ he added.
Atuluku said that agriculture was the only sector that could provide the number of the needed jobs, if the country’s full agricultural potential was unlocked.
He expressed the support of ActionAid for the Federal Government’s new Agricultural Promotion Policy to improve the nation’s economy.
He noted that the policy spelt out the underlying challenges of policy framework, political commitment, agricultural technology, infrastructure deficit, finance and risk management, institutional reform and realignment, which needed to be tackled.
‘‘We, however, believe that solving these challenges, as envisaged in the agriculture promotion policy, is only achievable through participatory budgeting.
‘‘This model is capable of guaranteeing more equitable public spending, greater government transparency and accountability, increased levels of public participation as well as democratic and citizenship learning,’’ he said.
The stakeholders’ consultative meeting is aimed at generating discourse on the themes of the government’s agricultural policy, while facilitating citizens’ inputs into the proposed 2018 Agriculture Budget.