By Philip Yatai
Kaduna, Oct. 15, 2020 The Coalition of Associations for Leadership, Peace, Empowerment and Development (CALPED) has appealed to the Kaduna State House of Assembly to allocate funds for agricultural mechanisation in the state’s 2021 draft budget.
The NGO’s Head, Leadership, Governance and Advocacy, Mr Yusuf Goje, made the appeal during a virtual Public Hearing on the state’s proposed budget for 2021 financial year, organised by the Assembly.
Goje said the Ministry of Agriculture had proposed N73.8 million for procurement of combine harvesters to promote agricultural mechanisation but was not captured in the draft budget.
He urged the members of the House to allocate funds for mechanisation in the budget to accelerate the full mechanisation and commercialisation of the agricultural sector.
He also said that N10.23 million was proposed for Agricultural Extension Services by the ministry of agriculture but was slashed to N9.6 million.
Goje urged the Assembly members to increase the amount to enable the ministry to deploy technology-driven extension services to help improve agricultural productivity of farmers across the state.
“Similarly, N10.5 million was proposed by the ministry for Community Seed Production Enhancement Projects but was reduced to N9.9 million in the draft budget.
“I urge this House to consider reversing the figure, as seed is a critical input in crop production and currently about 69.4 per cent of farmers in the state use grains instead of seeds.
“The proposed N16.9 million for the procurement of chemicals and veterinary consumables was also not captured, and we appeal to the House to consider the line item, because livestock plays a crucial role in the livelihood of families,” Goje said.
He noted that 80 per cent of Kaduna State residents relied on agriculture as their source of livelihood, noting that the sector had yet to get the deserved attention.
According to him, the allocation to the sector was merely 4.6 per cent of the total 2021 budget, acknowledging an increase from 0.9 per cent allocated in 2020.
“For capital expenditure which directly affects the farmers, we have seen an increase in allocation from 1.3 per cent of the total capital budget in 2020 to 6.6 per cent in the proposal for 2021 capital expenditure.
“But it is worrisome that out of the 26 capital interventions proposed by the ministry of agriculture, only seven interventions were captured in the draft budget.
“Also, of the more than N10 billion allocated to the ministry, more N9 billion is coming from development partners with the state contributing only about N200 million as counterpart fund.
“This is very poor, considering the strategic place of agriculture in the socio-economic development of the state,” he said.
Goje also urged the House to look at the issue of feeder roads in the budget of the Ministry for Local Government Affairs, which was not getting the needed funding and release of allocated funds.
He noted that the government was doing a lot in urban renewal, stressing that feeder roads that impact on rural economy had been neglected.
He also noted that Kauru Special Intervention Rural Electrification Project had been in the ministry’s budget for a very long time without releases of the funds, even as Kauru LGA was among the backward councils in the state.
Responding, the Chairman, House Committee on Budget and Appropriation, Ahmed Mohammed, commended the citizens for engaging and taking ownership of the budget processes.
Mohammed assured the citizens that the House would use their submissions to engage the ministries, departments, and agencies during the budget defence and make adjustments where necessary.