By Chigozie Uzosike
For increase in the low budgetary allocation to agriculture, civil society organizations under the Agric Budget Plus Cluster have liaised with the ministry of Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics, Imo State for 5% increase.
In her comments, when the Agric Budget Plus Cluster engaged the Honourable Comissioner, Rt. Hon. C.C.the Permanent Osuala, PhD; and his management team including the Permanent Secretary and the Directors of the Ministry in a technical session as their advocacy strategy, a member of the cluster organizations and the Executive Director of CARA Development Foundation, Nnennaya Enyinna- Eneremadu noted given that agriculture contributes 23% to the GDP and over 35% to employment, increasing investment and incentives in agriculture can guarantee food security.
She said that the 1.1% allocated to agriculture is inadequate to address all the issues needed to make for food security in the state, adding that there was need for all hands to be on deck. She posited that everyone uses product of agriculture, hence the reason the sector needs to have more budgetary provisions for healthy living.
She said that the demands of the Agric Budget Plus Cluster is for strategic partnership with major stakeholders like the ministry, access to information and partnership to monitor the implementation of the budget to ensure that the increase when it happens is channeled to real agricultural value addition.
In his contribution, another cluster organization, Community and Youth Development Initiative, Fexlfame Enisire who’s the Executive Director said the cluster understands that there are more work to be done especially working with relevant Ministry, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to increase the budgetary provisions.
The Imo State Coordinator, Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria and Executive Director of Foundation for Livelihood Advancement, Elder Kenneth Amogu said that the Agric Budget Plus Cluster advocates for increasing the budget for Agriculture by 5%, saying it will enable for more funds for food production, especially the Biofortified with Vitamin A foods and processing them, which is very key, and considering the various by- products from Agriculture, that are needed in other sectors, like medical and pharmacy, fashion and designing, building and construction, among others.
Amogu noted that the Imo State Ministry of Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics, is the Coordinating Ministry for Food and Nutrition activities and has the State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) domiciled in the Ministry, adding that the Ministry played role in the Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition (CS-SUNN), POOL FUND Project that supported Imo State to get the Multisectoral Action Plan on Nutrition and the State Food Policy.
In his contribution, the Commissioner for Budget, Economic Planning and Statistics, Rt. Hon. C. C. Osuala PhD noted that they’re ready to partner with the cluster, but advised that the cluster should watch out for 2023 budget process to join in the discussion. He said that the cluster can also register with the ministry on her special Agro industrial zone which Imo State is piloting, supported by World Bank and ADB. He also urged the cluster organizations to own lands and go into farming to develop the kinds of foods they want, adding that long is gone for theory. He urged all and sundry to go into farming for food security. He equally called on the cluster organizations to register with the ministry to be sure that they’re free from terrorism financing, stressing that the ministry doesn’t deal with any CSO that doesn’t go through that process.
The Agric Budget Plus Cluster for 5% increase in the budgetary provisions for agriculture is a project of USAID in partnership with Palladium.