In 2003, Nigeria chaired a session of African countries which committed to the spend 10% of her budgets at all levels on agriculture. This was a promise made in Mozambique and it is famously called the “Maputo Declaration”.
Considering the expanding population of the continent and also the large mass of arable land, this was a good promise for the continent. African leaders agreed that the continent with a population of almost a billion people needs to feed herself. Since 2003, Nigeria failed to lead by example, as her budget for agriculture has peaked at 3% of the total budget in 2008, which does not match the promise, made in Maputo.
For agriculture to expand, government has to take a lead by providing the right environment and also supporting smallholders. After showing promise budget of N83bn for agriculture in 2013, the proposed allocation was brought down to N66bn in 2014.
How does government sustain its famed agricultural transformation agenda scheme when it plans to spend less on agriculture? Does this point to a clear policy direction of government if the key sector it plans to activate faces declined funding?
It is time to raise our voices that Nigeria as Africa’s largest economy should lead by example in making sure it continuously increase funding for agriculture and also stimulate private sector investments.