Nigeria’s National Assembly Proposes Separate Budget for Agric Sector
The Joint-Committee of National Assembly on Agriculture has proposed the need to submit agricultural budget separately for speedy passage due to the seasonal nature of agricultural production in the country. Mr Tahir Monguru, the House Committee Chairman on Agriculture, made this known in Abuja on Friday during the committee’s courtesy visit to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Monguru said that there was need for legislators and executives to collaborate to make sure that issues concerning agriculture were removed from the traditional budgetary provision due to time factor. “The fact that everything concerning agriculture is time bound and rains are not going to wait for anyone, there is need for the executive to submit the budget on agriculture differently and put aside other budgets so that the legislature can quickly approve it.
“The release should also be fast tracked so that it will meet the purpose of the budget to ensure that Nigerian farmers are going to gain fully from the services of the ministry.’’ Monguru said that there was also the need for legislators and executive to come together to amend the Public Procurement Act for effective running of the ministry of agriculture.
Chief Audu Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development commended the Joint-Committee of National Assembly on Agriculture for its support in helping to put agriculture in the right direction. “We are making headway in agriculture and intensive production and promise to move faster as our population is growing.
We have achieved a lot in the area of rice and grain and we getting to stage of self-sufficiency in our staple crops. Though, we have challenges of smugglers and we need to take drastic action to prevent this action in order to protect our farmers and the country’s economy.
Ogbeh said noted that the Bank of Agriculture (BoA) was about to be privatised and the ministry was targeting to make farmers shareholders if the process was completed. “We will like farmers to become shareholders in the bank; we are proposing that we sell 40 per cent of the bank to them, 10 per cent to CBN. The 10 per cent to ministry of finance and remaining 40 per cent to investors. “This is the only way to make it a bank that farmers will have access to credit in the range of about five per cent which is our target,’’ he said.
Mr Muhazi Abdulkadri, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, said that agriculture as a number one priority in the country needed more money and the ministry had been trying to help farmers with finance. Abdukadri commended National Assembly on its effort to amend public procurement act to deliver effectively to farmers and boost the country’s economy.
“There is a lot of process in the procurement act that can address procurement delay and we are happy that the National Assembly has reviewed and amended it to help us discharge our duty effectiveness.’’ He said that the ministry was delayed on budget release but was able to deliver some work, adding that the agriculture budget was low which the government needed to do something about.
According to him, the key areas that the ministry is focusing on is to diverse the country’s economic base and boost food security in the country.
“We need to develop value chain in those specific crops that can make us survive as a nation because the nation that cannot be self-sufficient in food cannot be a nation.
“We have been attending to the flood victims, most of the projects are ongoing and we are trying to help our farmers.
“We are also partnering with the Ministry of Water Resources for irrigation purpose for our farmers to have all-year-round farming,’’ he said.