By Sylvester Thompson
Mr Constant Tchona, the Country Director of OXFAM in Nigeria, an NGO says improved governance in the agricultural sector is key to the reduction of poverty and improving economic development.
Tchona said this on Tuesday in Lokoja during Stakeholders Consultative Meeting on 2020 Agriculture Budget organised by ActionAid Nigeria, Oxfam and ECOWAS Commission.
Other organisers are One Campaign, CAADP Non State Actors Coalition (CNC) and the Ministry of Budget and National Planning.
The Country Director said Nigeria needed to develop smallholder farmers because many Nigerians work in the agricultural sector and agriculture had been an important revenue earner for the country.
“In 2017, agriculture contributed around 20.85 per cent to Nigeria’s GDP and there is potential for more than this, and it lies in our ability to unlock the productivity of smallholder actors.
“This is doubly important for Nigerian farmers to be competitive in agricultural production and move away from raw material exports and into value addition.’’
Tchona expressed surprise over the ignorance of state governments about key national policy instruments and framework such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP).
He said he was awestricken by the relative lack of awareness of these state governments on the Nigerian Agricultural Resilience Framework (NARF) and Nigerian Agricultural Investment Promotion (NAIP).
“In a situation such as this, CAADP can provide a framework for which state-level governments can assess the impact of their agricultural policies.
“States should use CAADP not just as a means of keying into the national agenda, but as part and parcel of guiding their own agricultural investments as well.
“The Malabo commitment of 10 per cent for agricultural budget got a lot of press, but we need to ensure the quality of these investments as well – that is where the need for improved tracking and monitoring comes in.
“One of the good things about CAADP is that it gives a framework for setting targets at state and national agricultural policy responsiveness, and agricultural policy development,’’ he said.