By Emmanuel Enebeli
Warri: Delta State Government has been called to improve the lots of smallholder and women farmers by proper allocation of funds in the annual budget, and easy access of allocated funds and facilities.
The call was made by the Environmental and Rural Mediation centre, (ENVIRUMEDIC) and PFA-Budget Committee Group (BCG), during a press briefing on Tuesday 05/04/2017 in Warri to call the attention of the state government on the continuous decline on the annual budgetary allocation to the Agricultural sector, and the need to arrest the decline, as the sector is very vital to the state economic recovery, especially as the state is trying to look away from the Oil and Gas sector as the main source of the state revenue.
The organisation speaking through the Founder of ENVIRUMEDIC, and Coordinator of PFA-Budget Committee Group (BCG), Chief Monday Itoghor, said between 2013-2017, the allocation to the State Agricultural Sector had been on high decrease, with that of 2017 more worrisome, which had undermined the importance of agriculture to the economy of the state.
According to the organisation, for this number of years, the allocation to the sector had undermined and neglected the Maputo agreement which called for the Mobilisation of the Rural Women in Agriculture, and these had affected the contribution of the sector to the growth of the state economy negatively.
“It is clear that the state did not prioritise agriculture nor the smallholder women farmers, which is a result of disconnection between government and the smallholder women during the budgetary process”.
They called for participation of critical stakeholders during the budgetary process, as the 2017 budget was not specific on women, except mentioning the mobilization of Rural Women for Sustainable Agriculture, in the budget without allocation.
Among other things, the group said there should be a deliberate increment in budgetary allocation to agriculture, creation of space for critical stakeholders and farmers to participate in prioritizing government Agricultural initiatives that will be funded through the budget allocation, early preparation and approval of the budget, and the review of existing policies and frameworks on agriculture development.