By Sylvester Thompson
ActionAid Nigeria, an NGO says agricultural sector is the only sector that can provide the number of needed jobs if the country’s full agricultural potential was to be unlocked.
Mr Oluwole Elegbede, the Director of Finance, ActionAid Nigeria, said this during a Stakeholders Conference on 2020 Agriculture Budget held on Tuesday in Lokoja.
Elegbede said that policy framework, political commitment, agricultural technology, infrastructural deficit, finance and risk management, institutional reform and realignment were the major challenges.
He said these challenges were clearly spelt out in the Agricultural Promotion Policy of the Federal Government which needed to be solved for the country to realise its full agricultural potential.
He said Nigeria’s economy would grow if right investments were made to support smallholder farmers, especially women and youths in agriculture.
“Investments should also be made on agricultural finance and credit, farm inputs, extension services, Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture (CRSA), labour savings technologies as well as research and development.
He said these should be without administrative overheads, unclear allocations within the agricultural sector.
Elegbede said that the stakeholders’ conference was vital considering the impact allocations and spending the sector had on the wellbeing of Nigerian citizens.
“This consultative meeting on the 2020 Agriculture Budget is aimed at facilitating conversations among key stakeholders connecting the continental framework, the CAADP targets and the ECOWAS Agricultural Policy (ECOWAP).
“This is in connection with the Nigerian government’s intentions within the Agricultural Promotion Policy.
“Additionally, the meeting provides the opportunity for stakeholders to engage with the second generation of the National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP2),’’ he said.
The director said the meeting was to facilitate citizen’s inputs in the 2020 agriculture budget, create ownership, linking and integrating programmes that would help the country achieve food security among others.
“Furthermore, the meeting supports the effective biennial reporting by Nigeria to the African Union Head of States and Government in line with the Malabor Declaration and Commitment of 2014,’’ Elegbede said.
The two-day conference was organised by ActionAid Nigeria, Oxfam Nigeria, ECOWAS Commission, One Campaign, CAADP, Non State Actors Coalition (CNC) and Ministry of Budget and National Planning.