In their 2018 budgets, three states, Ekiti, Ondo, and Yobe, allocated an amount in excess of N5.7bn to travelling and training expenses while allocating N2.5bn to agriculture, checks by The PUNCH have revealed.
This is in spite of the mantra of the current administration about the need to diversify the economy from being over-reliant on oil revenue to other non-oil areas, particularly agriculture.
Ondo State had an approved budget of N171bn. The state allocated a total of N867m to the Ministry of Agriculture.
Out of this amount, N276.2m was allocated to the state’s Agricultural Development Programme that provides for the training of farmers by extension workers and provision of other technical assistance and input to the agricultural sector.
The FADAMA project, another training and outreach programme got an allocation of N9m, the Agricultural Input and Supply Agency got N65.7m, the Agro Climatological and Ecological project was allocated N6.6m, while the Cocoa Revolution office had an allocation of N3.10m.
N506.10m went to personnel cost for the state’s Ministry of Agriculture.
The state, however, budgeted an amount in excess of N1.9bn for travelling expenses and training of employees in the various ministries and parastatals.
Ekiti State’s budget was N98.6bn while the total budget for agricultural development was N718m.
Of this, N231.9m went to the Directorate of Farm Settlement, the School of Agriculture and Enterprises, the state’s FADAMA and Agricultural Development Programmes.
486.1m was budgeted as personnel cost for the state’ Ministry of Agriculture.
The state’s budget for travelling and training was, however, N1.2bn.
In the same vein, Yobe State had an approved budget of N92.18bn.
The Ministry of Agriculture got N516m for personnel cost, the pilot livestock scheme in the state was allocated N204m, the state Agricultural Development Programme got N216.1m, while fertiliser blending plant got N24.5m.
The budget for both international and local travels, as well as employees’ training and development, was calculated as N2.6bn.
The size of the budget for travelling was not unconnected with the huge size of the cabinets in each state, some of which had as many as over 50 ministries and parastatals.
From the budget, some states were seen to create a lot of programmes to enhance the growth of agriculture while some did not show a lot of visible efforts.
Lagos State had a budget of N1.046tn out of which it allocated N1.1bn to the Ministry of Agriculture, N650m to the Agric Youth Empowerment Scheme, and N1.5bn to the Rice Collaboration between Lagos and Kebbi State. N4.8bn went to the Lagos State Coconut Development Authority and N148m to the Lagos State Agric Input Supply Authority among a host of other programmes.
Lagos along with other states including Kebbi, Ekiti, Edo, Ondo, Abia, Borno, Yobe and a few others invested in the Agricultural Development programme.
Other states, especially the ones in the South-East, did not have a provision in the budget for the ADP.
A professor of agriculture from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Emmanuel Ikani, confirmed this when he said that only a little more than eight states in the country were investing in the ADP.
He said funding for the project, which started as a World Bank programme, ceased when the World Bank ended the project and the Nigerian government did not provide its counterpart funding.
“Right now, the programme is left for the states. If any state is interested in developing the agriculture sector, it would pay and the programme would be extended to the state,” he said.
Ikani also regretted the overall low budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector, saying, “This year, the budgetary allocation to agriculture is only three per cent of the total budget of the federation.
“But you see that the Maputo Declaration specified that every country in Africa should give 10 per cent of its budget to agriculture.
“I am telling you that for the past 20 years, no government in Nigeria has given up to five per cent budgetary allocation to the sector.”
Also, a non-governmental organisation with concern for agriculture development in Kwara State, Community Empowerment and Poverty Eradication, funded by ActionAid Nigeria, lamented the inadequate budgetary allocation to the agriculture sector in the state.
Commenting on the funding trend and analysis of the 2019 budget, the Coordinator, Public Financing of Agriculture Project, Abdulrahman Ayuba, said that budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector had not been in tune with the national and international benchmark in the past six years.
He said, “It will be recalled that agriculture was allocated a paltry 1.38 per cent of the total state budget in 2014. It was reduced to 1.29 per cent in 2015, 0.40 per cent in 2016, and 0.43 per cent in 2017, and marginally increased to 2.92 per cent in 2018, and drastically reduced to 0.44 per cent in 2019 budget.
“While the Kwara State government was applauded for the increase in allocation to the sector in 2018 budget (though this was as a result of the whopping N3bn allocated for fertiliser procurement), it is disheartening that this year’s budgetary allocation has significantly dropped to 0.44 per cent, which fell short of the minimum 10 per cent allocation stipulated under the Maputo/Malabo declaration and commitment.”
Ayuba called on the government to uphold the Maputo declaration and Malabo commitment which, he said, stipulated 10 per cent minimum allocation of the annual budget to agric sector.