The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has said that it will begin monitoring the implementation of allocation to the agriculture sector in the 2018 budget.
This, AFAN said would help facilitate accountability.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja, the Vice President of the association, Chief Daniel Okafor, said that the budget monitoring would be done in all the states of the federation.
He was reacting to the 2018 Appropriation Act, which was assented to by President Muhammadu BuhariÂ on Wednesday, saying the monitoring would ensure that real farmers in the rural areas are reached and also benefit from the implementation.
According to him, â€œWe thank the President for signing the budget but in another way, we are not happy as farmers because farming is time bound. We have farmers that only do rain- fed agriculture. Yes, the budget has been signed but what we are talking about is the implementation. How is it going to be implemented?
â€œWithout monitoring the budget, it will be like the budget of previous years where you give the farmers what they need at the wrong time. I believe it is time farmers speak out because it is in their own constituency when agricultural budget is mentioned. It is not only the Ministry of Agriculture that we are talking about in the budget.â€™â€™
The association added that it will monitor the implementation of budget of all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies that concerns agriculture to ensure that the budget is implemented so that farmers will enjoy just like their counterparts in other countries.
The National Coordinator, Zero Hunger Commodity Farmers, Dr. Tunde Arosanyin advised the government to avoid gaps during the budget implementation especially as it concerned agriculture.
Â Arosanyin, who is also the National Technical Adviser of AFAN, said allocation to the agriculture sector was 3.2 per cent which was less than the 10 per cent budget agreed during the Maputo declaration of 2003.
According to him, â€œThe budget of 2018 signed today is rather coming too late. Agriculture is tied to time and weather so the budget may not be fully released by that time, the rain will be winding down in the north and the middle belt which is the hub of agriculture production.
â€œNevertheless, it is advisable to avoid leakage at implementation by meeting the farmers at farm gate with input, credit and market.â€™â€™
Â To Mr Nnimmo Bassey, an agriculture and environmental expert, paucity of fund in the agriculture sector was capable of causing delay in plans of the agriculture ministry.
He called for robust investment to revive and empower extension officers to provide the needed support to our farmers especially smallholder farmers who the masses depended on for food, advising the government to also invest in soil-enriching agro-ecological farming methods to shift away from food production that depended on toxic chemicals, artificial fertilisers and unnatural genetic modified seeds.