ASABA/Nigeria: The Delta State Government had been called to shore up their attention in the development of the state agricultural and rural development sector by the timely release of funds to the Delta Agricultural and Rural Development Authourity, DARDA.
This call was made recently when a nongovernmental organisation, Environmental and Rural Mediation Centre (ENVIRUMEDIC) in collaboration with Budget Committee Group (BCG) with support from ActionAid Nigeria (AAN) convened a One Day Stakeholder Consultative Meeting in Asaba, to review the analysed 2019 approved agricultural budget with a view to improve that of 2020. The meeting which was a key milestone for stakeholders to brainstorm on how to move agriculture forward in the State and the country at large; was organized to x-ray issues and challenges of Delta State agricultural budget and budgetary processes. Looking at the analysed budget from 2017-2019, the analysis is to serve as a guide to have knowledge of the allocation to agriculture and the funding gaps so as to guide stakeholder’s discussions and comments thereby validating the recommendations.
According the analysis, the group observed that, Budgetary allocation to Agriculture has been on an unimpressive ascending order of 0.87, 0.90 and 1.06 for 2017, 2018 and 2019 respectively, Low budgetary allocation to gender based projects/programs, it showed that allocation to agriculture has never met the Malabo declaration of 10% of total budgetary allocations from the year 2017 – 2019.
It however commended the state government for the N200 million was allocation to Delta Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (DARDA) in 2018 and 2019 as against N50 million and N70 million for 2016 and 2017 respectively, but discovered that the Youth Agriculture Enterprise Program (YAGEP) did not fall into any budget line item under Job Creation to ascertain how much was committed to it in the 2018 and 2019 budgets.
At the end of the stakeholders meeting, it recommended that, Increase allocation to agriculture in a bid to comply with the Malabo Declaration of 10% total budgetary allocation to Agriculture annually, Government should ensure timely release of approved funds to the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources as Agricultural activities are time bound, The budgetary system should be made transparent for ease of monitoring and tracking, Maintain standard budgeting procedure of zero budgeting which do not give room for Omnibus and Miscellaneous as budget line items, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Smallholder Women farmers and other key stakeholders should be actively involved in the budgetary process, among other recommendations.