From Joseph Amedu, Lokoja
The Small Scale Women Farmer Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON), Kogi chapter, has called on the state government to review existing policies and framework on agriculture to fast-track the diversification of the state economy.
The spokesperson of the organization, Ms Halima Sadiq who is also the Executive Director, Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) made the call at a press conference on Wednesday in Lokoja.
She decried the persistent low budgetary allocations and equally dismal releases of such allocations saying that there had been fluctuating budgetary provisions for the agriculture sector in the state since 2016.
Reading from the release signed by Hajia Safiya Yahaya, state Coordinator and Mrs Esther Audu, Secretary of SWOFON, Sadiq held that the development contravened the 2003 Maputo Declaration saying there was need for review of existing policies.
“Nigeria is a signatory to the declaration and it promised commitment to providing at least 10 per cent of its annual budget to agriculture under the Maputo declaration of 2003 and as such upholding the commitment in this COVID-19 era is crucial.
“It is imperative that the Ministry of Agriculture reviews existing policies and prepares a coherent policy framework that incorporates the Change Agenda of the administration which will provide a good anchor and basis for budget formulation and implementation.
“If Agriculture is to serve as a means of diversifying the economy of Kogi State as promised in the New Direction Blueprint of the government, then allocation to the sector is grossly inadequate”, she said.
She added that there was need for rationalisation and streamlining of mandates of the Ministry of Agriculture to achieve greater value for money so that resources would be channeled to capital expenditure alongside salary payment and overheads.
Sadiq therefore called for at least 80 per cent releases across budget line items in the approved agricultural sector budget for 2021 and specifically, 100 per cent release of Women In Agriculture budget to its members across the 21 LGAs in the State.
SWOFON among others, called for enhanced legislative oversight to the sector, inclusion of climate change mitigation in the budgetary provisions, concerted participatory Youth and Women In Agricultural policies and increased funding for agricultural Finance/Credit as well as funding for extension Services.
Our Correspondent reports that SWOFON is coalition of women farmers from a across Nigeria working together to promote women-friendly agricultural policies and increasing women’s access to land, farm inputs and funding aimed at improving agricultural productivity.