From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Determined to ensure food availability by the year 2025, stakeholders in the agricultural sector have called on Government to ensure implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) conceived in 2003 by the African Union (AU) Heads of States and Governments.
The call to avert food scarcity in the country was made during a One-Day State Dialogue to appraise the Nigerian Agriculture Sector Performance at the 2nd Africa Union Biennial Review and Agriculture Joint Sector Review Report organized by Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development, an implementation partner for ActionAid Nigeria held in Lokoja, Kogi State.
The one day dialogue according to the Executive Director of PIBCID, Halima Sadiq also called for a strong commitment for the implementation of the Malabo agreement by African governments for allocation of a minimum of 10 per cent annual budget to Agriculture if the country is to make any meaningful impact on the sector.
The Executive Director lamented that the Malabo agreement which was to ensure food production in the African continent that has a growing population of 1.3 billion people in the continent with over 200 million living in Nigeria, needs an improvement in funding of the agriculture sector towards attaining food availability.
Sadiq stated that with the current population growth rate in Nigeria, the country’s population is expected to double in 25 years, lamented that the agricultural production growth rate which stands at less than 2.5 per cenr annually, remains insignificant and negligible to feed the growing population.
She called for increased funding in meeting the Malabo agreement towards attaining the 10% target as a major step towards cutting down yearly food importation, suggested that with the rich fertile land in the country and if supported with the right investments, it would address the challenges of food scarcity, ensure food availability, create wealth and reduce unemployment, reason for the dialogue.
The PIBCID Executive Director equally added that the dialogue seeks to assess the country’s performances made in terms of meeting the Malabo agreement in meeting the continental target towards providing 10 per cent annual budget to agriculture sector, lamented that at the last count, Nigeria could only make 5.8 per cent budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector.
While pointing out that it is becoming challenging for the country to have sufficient money to sustain food importation in the face of its growing population, said the time to key into the Malabo agreement remains now, cannot be compromised.
She called for a concerted efforts by stakeholders in Kogi State in meeting the Malabo agreement with special appeal to the Kogi State Government to double up their efforts in terms of food production through adequate budgetary funding for the sector to be able to feed the State population and to be the food basket of the nation.
Presenting the biennial scorecard, Mr Friday Ogazi, of ActionAid Nigeria, said the Nation’s score card which stand at 5.18 per cent is lower than the benchmark of 6.66 per cent, called for greater and serious commitments to meeting the Malabo agreement and food sufficiency by 2025.
Making a presentation on Nigeria’s Current Biennial Review Score, Process, Challenges and Solutions, he called for a recommitment to the values of CAADP, enhancing Investment in financing agriculture, commitment to ending hunger in Africa by 2025 and halving poverty by 2025 through inclusive Agricultural growth and transformation.
He added that boosting intra African trade in Agriculture commodities and services, enhancing resilience of livelihood and commitment to accountability should be a way out and commitment to ensuring food security and sufficiency.
He called for a strong commitment to enhancing Investment Finance in Agriculture, if the target of ending hunger in Africa by 2025 is to be achieved.