By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The Bauchi State Public Finance in Agriculture (PFA) Budget Committee has commended the state government for increasing its agricultural budget by 2.6 per cent in 2018.
A member of the committee, Mr Tosin Suberu, made the commendationÂ WednesdayÂ while presenting the 2018 agriculture budget analysis conducted by the committee in collaboration with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) known as Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) to the state Ministry of Agriculture.
Suberu, who stated that Bauchi is an agrarian state with total land area of 49,119km representing about 5.3 per cent of the Nigerian land mass, also noted that it has 4.2 million hectares of cultivatable land.
“But only 1.8 million hectares is presently being cultivated which represents only 43 per cent under cultivation. Its vast fertile soil is an added advantage for agricultural products which includes maize, rice, millet, groundnut, Benny seed, cassava, beans and sorghum,” he noted.
According to him, their findings showed that the state allocated 4.65 per cent of its budget to agriculture in 2017, adding that the allocation increased to 7.1 per cent in 2018.
While applauding the government for the gesture, Suberu recommended that the Bauchi State government should honour the ‘Maputo’ declaration by progressively increasing the allocation to not less than 10 per cent of the 2019 state total budget to agriculture in the light of diversifying the economy and wealth creation for the state.
Earlier, the chairperson of the committee, Mrs Tabawa Atiku, explained that the budget analysis focussed on small holder farmers, claiming that 60 per cent of such farmers are women.
She therefore appealed to the ministry to also consider women while giving agricultural loans and equipment in order to encourage them.
Responding, the state Commissioner for Agriculture Yakubu Kirfi lauded the PFA budget committee for the analysis, saying it would help government in identifying its lapses as well as improving them in subsequent budgets