- Women farmers advocate budget increase to agric in Bauchi
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja and Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Nigeria Expanded Trade and Transport (NEXTT) project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the launch of eight model business/industry studies for processing, export and subsequent development of their value chains in Nigeria.
The commodities are cassava, ginger, kenaf, moringa, sesame, shea, soya milk and yam flour. They form a great deal of staple food consumed across Nigeria as well as export market.
But processing of these commodities has remained at the primary and crude level, limiting the massive inherent gains available across the entire value chain if well managed, hence the need for the industry study.
The industry studies, which were carried out by leading Nigerian Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) were conducted to resolve financing barrier that prevents potential investments in value addition for these commodities, which will result in creating thousands of jobs as well as increasing productivity and income of smallholder farmers across Nigeria.
The industry studies were fully funded by the Project Development Facility (PDF) managed by NEXTT to also provide seed funding for early-stage project development, and unlock significant amounts of private investment and financing for value chain development.
The manuals are expected to catalyse private investments required to drive these value chains; thereby improving the competitiveness of Nigerian agro-industries in both domestic and international markets.
According to NEXTT Chief of Party, Marc Shiman, “There are remarkable unexploited opportunities in many of Nigeria’s agricultural value chains for entrepreneurs to take advantage of, and the more these opportunities are exploited, the more jobs will be created, foreign exchanged earned, industries modernised, and competitiveness increased. By providing these turn-key solutions, NEXTT is hoping to accelerate investment in these value chains by Nigerian entrepreneurs”.
Meanwhile, women farmers in Bauchi state have called on the state government to allocate at least 10 per cent of its budget to agriculture in the 2018 fiscal year in order to revitalise the economy of the state as well as create wealth and jobs for the teeming unemployed citizens.
The women made the call in a communique issued at the end of a one-day budget tracking meeting of women farmers organised by Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria held in Bauchi recently.
According to the women farmers, the state allocated 4.32, 3.98, 7.05 and 4.65 per cents to the agricultural sector in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively “which were not sufficient considering the significance of food production especially now that the country was faced by food scarcity and inflation.
“Bauchi State is an agrarian state with annual budget allocation which has stayed below five per cent benchmark for the past three years as against the Maputo and Malabo declarations that Nigerian government signed into, which allows government to allocate a minimum of 10 per cent of their annual budget to agriculture.
“In spite of all the discussions about how important the agriculture is to the economic growth and as an alternative source of revenue for Bauchi state, it’s yet to be accorded the right priority through resource allocation for its development for the past three tears”, they lamented.
Earlier in her address, the Director, FAWOYDI, Hajiya Maryam Garba appealed to the state ministry of agriculture to consider women farmers’ groups and women farmers in rural areas while disbursing agricultural loans.
She explained that the objective of the meeting was to engage the state policy makers in the sector to increase the 2018 budget line items to reflect priorities of the women farmers that would promote sustainable agriculture as well as ensure women farmers’ participation in agriculture budget process in the state.