Nigeria: 2021 Budget Proposal - Again, Nigeria Underfunds Agriculture As Done in Last 20 Years

Nigeria: 2021 Budget Proposal - Again, Nigeria Underfunds Agriculture As Done in Last 20 Years

The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and agencies under it will get only 1.5 percent of the federal budget for 2021 if the proposals by President Muhammadu Buhari are approved by the National Assembly.

This includes N66 billion for personnel cost, N3.1 billion for overhead, and N110.2 billion for capital expenditure.

The 1.5 percent allocation is significantly less than the 10 percent Nigeria and other African countries agreed to set aside annually for agriculture.

Nigeria was part of the 2003 Maputo Declaration that mandated all African Union member countries to allocate at least 10 percent of their total annual budgets to agriculture.

This was done as one the ways to increase food sufficiency in the continent.

However, data show that in the last two decades Nigeria has consistently defaulted on this commitment.

Inadequate funding

Despite repeated promises by the current and past administrations, a PREMIUM TIMES analysis shows that Nigeria has constantly under-funded the agricultural sector.

In the last 20 years, agriculture got its highest budgetary allocations during the administration of President Umar Yar'adua.

In 2008, that administration budgeted N2.92 billion for agriculture, which was 5.41 percent of the total budget, and in 2009, it budgeted N3.101 billion again for the sector, about 5.38 percent of the total budget.

The Obasanjo and Jonathan administrations never raised their agric allocations to those marks.

The Buhari government, despite repeated promises to revive agriculture in the country, has budgeted some of the lowest figures to agriculture.

In 2020, the administration budgeted N79.79 billion for agriculture, which was less than 1 per cent of the total federal budget.

The latest proposal for 2021 shows only a meagre 0.5 per cent increase over last year's.

Experts wade in

Experts say with appropriate funding of the agriculture sector, more people can be lifted out of poverty, while the country's economy grows quicker.

An agricultural scientist, Celestine Ayok, told PREMIUM TIMES that in terms of funding, agriculture should have been second to defence ministry in the budget allocation.

"When you look at it, you will say that the amount is not enough," he said.

Mr Ayok, however, said the states have a bigger role to play in achieving food security because the federal government depends on them.

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Written by:
Oge Udegbunam