• Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigeria’s 2024 Budget: Assessing ‘Renewed Hope’ for Agriculture

The “Renewed Hope” budget for 2024 is currently being examined for its potential effects on the agricultural industry, particularly in relation to the allocated funds for the sector.

Although the agricultural sector is among the top 10 ministries with the highest earmarks, totaling N362.94 billion, it only accounts for 1.32 percent of the total budget of N27.5 trillion.

In comparison to the 2023 budget, where N228.4 billion was allocated to the agricultural sector, representing 1.05 percent of the total budget of N21.83 trillion, the 2024 budget allocates 134.54 billion more than the previous year.

This allocation has raised concerns among various stakeholders in the agricultural sector. In a joint conference held in Abuja, involving ActionAid Nigeria (AAN), Small-Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), and other agricultural sector stakeholders, groups such as Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), the Non-State Actors Coalition (CNC), and ONE expressed dissatisfaction with the allocated fund, representing 1.32 percent of the total budget.

The significance of the agricultural sector in Nigeria cannot be underestimated. The sector is the second-highest contributor to the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among non-oil sectors in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023.

The significance of the agricultural sector in Nigeria cannot be underestimated. The sector is the second-highest contributor to the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) among non-oil sectors in the third quarter (Q3) of 2023.

Read also: 2024 Budget faces breakneck pace as legislators rush to meet December 30 target

The performance of the GDP in Q3 2023 was mainly driven by the Services sector, which grew by 3.99 percent and contributed 52.70 percent to the aggregate GDP. The agriculture sector grew by 1.30 percent, contributing 29.31 percent to real GDP, while industries contributed 18.00 percent. Despite a slight decrease compared to the growth in Q3 2022, the agricultural sector remains vital.

Experts argue that the inadequate budgetary allocation to Nigeria’s agriculture cannot address issues related to mechanisation, rehabilitation of irrigation facilities and dams, storage, and research and development, negatively impacting farmers’ productivity. BusinessDay earlier reports.

Government-initiated policies, such as the Anchor Borrowers Program (ABP) and the National Agricultural Technology and Innovation Plan (NATIP), aim to diversify the economy away from oil.

Despite these policies, the agricultural sector in Nigeria faces challenges such as heavy importation, climate change, flooding, desertification of crop and grazing land, extremist insurgencies, and conflicts between herdsmen and local farmers.

According to a report by the International Trade Administration (ITA), Nigeria relies on $10 billion of imports to address food and agricultural production shortfalls, with major sources being Europe, Asia, the United States, South America, and South Africa.

Read also: “…and he referred to the 2024 National Budget as ‘Renewed Hope’”

Violence, armed banditry, and kidnappings have affected food access in Nigeria, particularly in the northern regions. Currently, 8.4 million people in these areas face food insecurity. Boko Haram terrorists, bandits, and armed herders have forced over 78,000 farmers to abandon their farmlands, disrupting farming activities. BusinessDay earlier reports

These challenges have exacerbated threats to food security, leading to a rise in food inflation to 32.84 percent as of November 2023, compared to 24.13 percent in November 2022. This increase in the cost of living has fueled poverty.

Salihu Mustapha, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture Production, Services, and Rural Development, emphasises “the agricultural sector’s potential to lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty and provide essential food security.” He stresses the sector’s importance in national economic policies and future budgets.