From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) has appealed to Kogi State Government to review the 2020 budgetary allocation to the Agriculture sector to accommodate credit and loan facilities to farmers.
Hajia Safiya Yahaya, Kogi Coordinator of SWOFON made the call during a press briefing it organised in collaboration with Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA) Committee in Lokoja yesterday.
Our Correspondent reports that the PFA is a programme of Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) and supported by ActionAid Nigeria to address issues of budgetary allocations to the Agriculture sector.
Yahaya said that the appeal had become necessary to avert the looming food crisis arising from the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic ravaging the globe and hindering farming activities.
The Coordinator said the Organisation had observed that there was no provision for Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme adding that the time was critical as farmers could barely access Federal assistance and credit as a result of covid-19.
“We noticed the downward review of funding of inputs to farmers in the state and we are pleading with the government to reconsider, so as to assist more farmers in this covid-19 farming season.
“We are also pleading with the government to make provisions for credit and loan schemes to assist farmers during this farming season if we must avert the looming food crisis”, she said.
Mrs Inikpi Ali, Programme Officer with PIBCID also speaking on the issue, said Nigeria was a signatory to the Maputo Declaration of 2003 with a commitment to provide at least 10 per cent of its annual budget to agriculture.
Ali however regretted that since the declaration of the 13 African countries, Nigeria and its state components had fallen short of the 10 per cent commitment with Kogi committing just 4.6 per cent to the Agriculture sector in it’s 2020 budget.
She noted, “If Agriculture is to serve as a means of diversifying the economy of Kogi State as promised in the New Direction blueprint of the state government, then allocations to the sector which has been grossly inadequate should be improved upon.”
Also Speaking, Mrs Esther Audu, Assistant Public Relations Officer of SWOFON in the state said, “We all know that covid-19 has come to destroy many things including what we are supposed to have as food reserve.
“If this is not properly addressed the hunger virus that is coming will be more than the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).”
She therefore, called for redirection of the N80 million allocation for the training of Extension Officers at Agric Training Centre, Ochaja, to procurement of inputs, including seeds and land clearing, for accelerated food production.