Hope Foundation for the Lonely (HFL), an NGO, has urged the Gombe State Government to increase its budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector in the state, to boost food production and security.
Mr Mansa Adamu, the Executive Director of the foundation, made the appeal, on Monday, in Gombe, while speaking with newsmen on the margins of a one-day dialogue by stakeholders in the sector.
The dialogue, which was to review a biennial report on the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), was organised by HFL.
Adamu said that the agriculture sector was key to averting food crisis, as well as improvement in the living standards of the people.
According to him, analysis of the rate at which Gombe state population was growing and the level of increase in food production necessitates the need for increased funding to the sector.
He stated that the annual budgetary allocation to the sector, over the years, had fluctuated between 2.5 and 5 per cent, a situation, he described as not good enough.
“For this year (2021), the state (Gombe) has allocated about 2.5 per cent of the annual budget to the agricultural sector, but we are here as stakeholders to call for more funding of the sector.
“The allocation is not up to the Malabo Agreement of 10 per cent and if we are to make impact in the sector and ensure food security, going forward, allocation for the sector must be prioritised,” he said.
Adamu added that increased allocation to the sector would lead to reduction in importation of food and youth unemployment in the state.
“In view of the role of the agriculture sector to the state and country, we are in partnership with Actionaid Nigeria, state and federal ministry of agriculture to ensure that agriculture gets the needed attention.’’
Adamu appealed to the state government to check the activities of middlemen in the sector who, he alleged sabotaged the efforts of government and farmers in ensuring food availability in the state and country.
Mr Jalo Ali, the Permanent Secretary, Budget Planning and Development Partner Coordination Office, Gombe state Ministry of Finance, said the state government was working to increase funding for the sector.
“I want to assure you that more funding in the agriculture sector is in the pipeline. The next time we meet, you will tell me that we have moved to five or six per cent; this is a promise,” he assured.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the one-day dialogue had in attendance several women and youth groups who formed the bulk of smallholder farmers in the state. (NAN)