Allocate 10% budget to Agriculture, Oxfam tasks incoming govt

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To stimulate economic recovery and boost farmers’ productivity, the incoming administration has been advised to as a matter of priority, allocate at least 10 per cent of the national budget to agriculture and encourage youth and women in agricultural businesses with farm inputs.

Giving the advice via a statement, the Country Director of Oxfam – a global movement of people, working together to end the injustice of poverty, Dr. Vincent Ahonsi, also called for the development of a national agricultural investment plan that is gender-sensitive and climate-proof, which seeks primarily to support small-scale farmers in non-cash crop sectors.

“It should commit more to non-violent conflict resolution to solve the farmers versus pastoralists conflicts that is threatening food security and making Nigeria more dependent on food imports.

“The government should commit to implementing universal and adequate social protection measures to support the people, ensuring that the poorest and most vulnerable people have social protection,” he said.

Ahonsi, who said in 2022, allocation to Nigeria’s agricultural sector represented just 1.8 per cent of the budget, noted that nearly 25 million Nigerians are at risk of facing hunger between June and August this year.

“The good news is that the country has an expanding economy with abundant human capital and the economic potential to lift millions out of poverty. The incoming government needs to take urgent steps towards ending hunger, reducing inequality, and reducing the number of Nigerians living below the poverty line.”

Ahonsi posited that the new government needs to realise that Small & Medium
Enterprises (SMEs) are key to building an economy that is fair and just, as they constitute a sustainable approach to tackling the developmental challenges that the economy is facing.

He said: “The SME sector has proven to be the backbone of major developed and emerging economies, as an important contributor to employment and economic growth. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), In Nigeria, SMEs contribute 48 per cent of national Gross Domestic Product (GDP), account for 96 per cent of businesses and 84 per cent of employment (not the big corporations).

“Networking and collaboration are important and essential for building a healthy SME ecosystem and unlocking the opportunities that it holds. Though significant growth has been achieved in the SME sector recently, there is still much to be done to further leverage the opportunities the ecosystem presents.

“To facilitate an inclusive business environment, where women and youth are empowered to participate, the incoming government needs to provide the enabling environment, the technical support and training that the SMEs need.”

In order to narrow the wide education inequality between the rich and the poor, Ahonsi said the incoming government needs to invest significantly in free universal education, with an emphasis on improving access to high-quality primary and secondary education.

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