From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
ActionAid Nigeria has called on Journalists and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to play critical roles in budget monitoring, tracking and advocacy to aid agricultural production especially at small holder farmers levels.
Mrs Gift Omoniwa, Programme Manager with ActionAid Nigeria disclosed this in an interview with Our Correspondent in Lokoja.
Omoniwa said that 70 per cent of Nigerians were engaged in agriculture while over 90 per cent of food being consumed in the country was produced by small holder farmers 60 to 80 per cent of whom were women.
She regretted that agriculture used to account for 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product of the country but had dropped to 23 per cent aggravating concerns and poverty trap among small holder farmers.
This, according to her, was due to a myriad of challenges including access to credit facilities and farm inputs facing farmers, especially the small holder women farmers.
According to her, while allocation to agriculture sector has continued to dwindle and hardly meet the Maputo declaration of 10 per cent per cent of national budgets, implementation had constituted a great challenge.
The call for monitoring and tracking of budget implementation had become imperative with journalists and Civil Society Organisations utilizing the Freedom of Information Bill to source information from MDAs.
Omoniwa who is also the Executive Director of Kogi-based Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID), ActionAid rights partners in the state, said sustained tracking of agriculture sector budgets would greatly reduce corruption in the sector.
She said tracking would put duty bearers on their toes and make them more transparent and accountable.
Omoniwa said that ActionAid recently organised a two-day Media Training on Agriculture Budgeting Monitoring, Tracking and Advocacy at Goshen City, Auta-Baleffi, Nasarawa State to enable adequate publicity.