Invest more in agriculture - Women farmers urge Soludo

Invest more in agriculture – Women farmers urge Soludo

…As Ministry of Agriculture commends group for drawing government attention to small scale women farmers

Mr Martins Eke of the Centre for Social Justice, on Friday regretted that only 1.9% of the Anambra State 2022 total budget of over N141billion was allocated to the agricultural sector as against the 10% Maputo Declaration benchmark.

Speaking during a town hall meeting organized by the National Secretariat of the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria, SWOFON in Awka, Eke stressed the need for the state to invest more in agriculture.

He however expressed delight that eighty-eight percent of the state agriculture vote was for capital expenditure while twelve went to recurrent expenditure.

He said, “Only N32.549million has been spent out of three hundred and N3.278million naira budgeted for projects that are likely to benefit small scale women farmers.

“When more is given to agriculture, it will trickle down to small scale farmers some of whom are bread winners of their families. Such increased budgeting will translate to better life for the women and their families and relations will benefit from it,” Mr Eke noted.

In another presentation on budget credibility, a Programme Officer with International Budget Partner, (IBP), Mr Olaleye Olaniyi, noted that there are still credibility challenges with the 2022 budget especially in the area of agriculture. 

While noting that a lot would have changed between June and December, Mr Olaniyi commended Anambra state for having less budget deviation when compared with several other states.

“Deviation means what government planned to do that they did not do. The percentage of deviation in 2017 was 15 percent. It jumped to 42 percent in 2018. In 2019, it reduced again. But, I don’t know what happened, 139 percent was not done in 2020. 2021 was a very good result. So, there is an improvement. it is a good result”. 

Addressing concerns raised by other stakeholders, the Head, Women in Agriculture, Mrs Patricia Uba, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, commended SWOFON, Anambra State chapter for its doggedness in drawing government attention to small scale women farmers, especially those under its umbrella.

“The budget for next year does not make us glad. You present your budget, but not everything is approved. We already have your charter of demand. We shall do our utmost to assist to the extent the budget will permit us”.

On his part, Director, Planning, Mr Arthur Iwuanya, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Budget And Economic Planning, advised SWOFON to intensify advocacy to relevant government agencies and to get actively involved in the budget preparation. 

The State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Arthur Mbuba, promised more cordial relationship between his ministry and SWOFON, while the Coordinator of SWOFON in Anambra State, Mrs Georgina Akunyiba, pledged to redouble efforts towards achieving their their charter of demands.

The event was aimed at analyzing the impacts of the state 2022 budget on small scale women farmers, who constitute over seventy percent of the entire agricultural workforce, as well as identifying areas where there are gaps

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