A group of farmers under the aegis of Small Scale Women Farmers Organisation of Nigeria (SWOFON) have described the proposed downward review of budgetary allocations to the Ministry of Agriculture as a wrong economic decision in the face of the economic threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at a virtual news conference in Abuja on Saturday, the National President of the association, Mary Afan, said rather than cut allocations to the agriculture sector, the executive and legislative arms of government should prioritise pumping more money into critical sectors like agriculture in order to avert a looming food crisis.
The federal government has proposed an amendment to the 2020 budget, which will result in a cut in the allocations to several ministries, including that of agriculture.
The amendment, which has been passed by the national assembly, proposes to reduce the Ministry of Agriculture’s allocation by 36 percent.
“We know that there is a shortage of revenues occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and resultant drop in the global price of crude oil,” Afan said.
“We also know that increased public investments in critical sectors, such as Agriculture, are required to lift the binding constraints on poor and more importantly, on women farmers’ productivity and would better position the economy on its path to a resurgence from the imminent recession.
“We are saying, therefore, that reducing the Agriculture budget by any margin at all is the wrong option. Rather, the Government should undertake a reprioritization of sectors in a way that involves reprogramming of funds to critical sectors such as agriculture.”