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Participants decry low budget allocation to agric. sector in Kogi



Participants at a dialogue on citizens evaluating the 2018 and 2019 budgets to the agriculture sector in Kogi, have decried the persistent low percentage allocation to the sector in the state.

The Citizens Dialogue in Lokoja was organised by Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Committee and supported by Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) in partnership with ActionAid Nigeria.

Some of the speakers said that the low allocation to the agriculture sector was against the 2003 Maputo Declaration of at least 10 per cent.

Mr Idris Miliki, the Executive Director, Conscience for Human Right and Conflict Resolution (CHRCR) said the 4.44 per cent allocated in the 2019 budget would not be able impact on the state economy.

Miliki said agriculture was capable of generating enormous revenue and create employment, and expressed regret that the sector had been neglected by successive administrations.

He stressed on the need for the state government to improve on the percentage in 2020 to inject life into the sector.

The rights activist also alleged that Kogi budgetary processes were often shrouded in secrecy with little or no inputs from the citizens, adding that budgets meant for the public were not supposed to be hidden and kept away from the people.

Miliki commended ActionAid Nigeria and PIBCID for the budget analysis of the 2019 review to enable the stakeholders know the content of the budget and its expected performance.

Mrs Gift Omoniwa, the Executive Director, PIBCID said the citizens dialogue aimed to disseminate analysis of the 2018 and 2019 budget to uncover the achievements recorded in the agricultural sector of the state.

Omoniwa said a review of the 2018 budget revealed that out of the N151.677 billion, the total budget for the state, N8.466 billion, representing 5.5 per cent, was allocated to the agriculture sector out of which N626.3 million, representing 7.4 per cent, was implemented.

She said in 2019, out of the N146.736 billion budget, agriculture got a total allocation of N6.51 billion, representing 4.4 per cent, which revealed a reduction to the sector and way below the 10 per cent benchmark of the Maputo Declaration.

Earlier in his welcome address, Mr Mathias Okpanachi, Chairman of the PFA Committee, said that the analysis would be of great benefit for small scale farmers and communities in holding the government accountable; for efficient inclusion and participatory governance.

The acting Director, State Ministry of Budget, Sani Haruna Mohammed, said the reduction of 2019 agriculture budget was due to change in the priority of the government.

Mr Abraham Ahmed, the Director, Planning Research and Statistics (PRS) at the state Ministry of Agriculture, however, said the emphasis should be on release of budgetary allocations to the sector rather than increase in percentage.

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