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ActionAid urges govts to improve investment in agriculture

ActionAid has urged the three tiers of government to improve on agricultural financing especially in intelligent technologies to increase productivity and efficiency by farmers in order to ensure food security.
Ms Constance Okeke, Project Manager, Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) of ActionAid International, made the call at a Biennial Review (BR) Report Engagement Strategy and Dissemination meeting organised by the agency on Friday in Abuja.
Okeke said agricultural financing had become imperative and that an increase and early release of funds to farmers were critical for the growth of the agriculture sector.
She stressed that sustainable increased funding would have a multiplier effect on agricultural production and help reduce poverty level.
The project manager noted that agriculture was a sector that helped in fulfilling the fundamental human rights to food.
She said the aspect of increasing resources on agriculture especially to women and the youth in the country and the shift from subsistence to commercial agricultural production required adequate funding.
The manager noted that in spite of the federal government’s commitment to the 2003 Maputo declaration of allocating 10 per cent of its annual budget to agriculture, up till date it had yet to actualise such commitment.
“We are not satisfied with the commitment of the government but then we would appreciate that there has been some element of progress; we need to do more than we are doing now.
“There are different ways of doing that: by improving on our programmes, policies and our implementation plan because implementation is the main aspect of any programme,’’ she said.
She noted that although governments were now making efforts to attract investment to agriculture, lack of understanding of the financial risks and opportunities in agriculture deprived the sector of much-needed funds to boost production, processing and marketing.
Okeke, however, expressed displeasure with the epileptic releases of budget allocations to the sector which always made it difficult to achieve the required 10 per cent based on the Maputo declaration.
“Therefore, we are advocating asking government to make sure that while increasing allocation to agriculture you also release so that there can be effect of this funding to agriculture,” Okeke said.
The manager said that the biennial review report, an initiative of African Union Heads of State, was basically to help review the implementation progress of African countries in terms of achieving comprehensive African development programmes target.

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She explained that after the Maputo declaration, heads of states in 2014 in Malabo recommited and came up with seven areas forming the bases for biennial performance review report.
Similarly, Mr Azubuike Nwokoye, Programme Coordinator, Food and Agriculture, ActionAid Nigeria, noted that the PFA project implemented by the organisation was aimed at strengthening the capacity of farmer federations and women’s organisations.
He added that it was to enable them to engage directly with government agencies and institutions for effective and efficient agriculture budget allocations and utilisation that could favour smallholder women farmers.

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