A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has called on the Kwara Government to expedite action on its proposed agriculture masterplan for the state.
The coalition made the call on Tuesday in Ilorin at a press briefing by its Budget Committee on Public Financing of Agriculture Project constituted to analyse the proposed 2020 revised agriculture budget in the state.
This project is being financed by Actionaid Nigeria and implemented by the Center for Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication (CCEPE).
Briefing newsmen, Hajia Bosede Anifowose, the Coordinator of the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), urged the state Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to itemise clearly the activities to be taken care of under the masterplan.
She noted that the sum of N28 million was allocated to the masterplan in the 2020 revised budget.
Anifowose said that the itemised activities would enable citizens and farmers to ascertain government’s plan for the agriculture sector and how soon the benefits would start accruing to them.
“More so, it should be very clear on how it promotes smallholder farmers productivity and growth through direct budget line items that target specific investments such as farm inputs, agriculture credit andb extension services.
” Others are labour saving technologies, climate resilient sustainable agriculture, small scale agricultural machineries and cottage processing facilities.
“We thus also implore the State House of Assembly, especially the Committee on Agriculture, to effectively engage the ministry toward this end,” she said.
She expressed regrets that women farmers were never given priority in the state inspite of the several engagements in the past.
“This trend unfortunately still subsists in the reviewed 2020 budget with the complete removal of the provision of paltry N1 million that was made for the purchase of 100 units of Knapsack sprayers for women farmers in the initial budget.
“While we urge the ministry to reinstate this budgetary provision in the reviewed budget, we equally observe that the allocation/provision is grossly inadequate at just 100 units of Knapsacks for the women in the entire 16 local government areas of the state,” she said.
The SWOFON leader, however, commended the state for the increased budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector from 1.88 per cent in the initial 2020 budget to 4.5 per cent in the reviewed budget.
This, she said, would effectively help the state to meet up with the 10 per cent Maputo/Malabo Declaration commitment.
She, however, said that more concrete steps needed to be taken to support small scale farmers, especially women farmers who produce the bulk of the food in the market.
Anifowose also urged the state Ministry of Agriculture and the House of Assembly to review government support to smallholder women farmers in the state to reflect their enormous contributions to the agriculture sector.
She also called for more support for extension agents in the state in order to build their capacity to assist farmers in line with the current trends and innovation in the sector.
Other participating organisations were the Welfare for Children and Teenagers Initiative, Community Need Care Development Initiative, Save the Future of Children Initiative and Fulfilling Dreams Foundation.
The rest were Organisation for the Sustainance of Nigerian Environment, FEMCOM as well as the Meadows Community and Development Outreach and WorthyLife Education and Health Foundation.
Edited By: JaneFrances Oraka/Mufutau Ojo) (NAN)
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