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"Let your budget accommodate Small Holders Women farmers, youths",Stakeholders urge Ebonyi Govt.

By Mbam Ogodo, Abakaliki

In a way to accommodate Small Holders Women Farmers and youths in the State, Stakeholders within the agricultural sector in Ebonyi state has called on the present administration to increase the sector's budgetary allocation for the 2020.

The stakeholders who were drawn from Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, Small Holders Women farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture both state and federal stressed the need for agricultural facilities to be evenly distributed to both men and women without any form of bias and marginalization.

The stakeholders made the Call during an event tagged: "Ebonyi State 2019 Agriculture Budget Analysis" organized by Participatory Development Alternatives, PDA, with support from Actionaid Nigeria at Sandiego Hotel, Abakaliki.

The Director of Agricultural Services of Ebonyi State Ministry of Agriculture, Mrs Okoro Juliet represented by Mr Ede Chukwuka explained that the increment will not only guarantee food sufficiency but also ensure participation of more farmers into the agricultural programmes and policies of the State.

"Government should include specific budget lines for smallholder women farmers in a supplementary budget and in the 2020 agriculture budget.

"The State Government should invest more in agriculture by increasing budget allocation to agriculture. Despite the 0.4% increase in agriculture budget in 2019, the State Government is yet to meet the 10% Maputo benchmark", she said.

Some of the recommandations of the stakeholders include: "The Government should release approved budgets, and on time. Non-release of approved budgets hinders the development of agriculture in the State.

"Government should also include specific budget lines for youths in agriculture in the 2020 agriculture budget.

"Government should provide grants and/or loans to smallholder women farmers who most of the time do not have guarantors.

"Government should subsidise farm inputs for rural farmers and ensure their access.

"Government should create more awareness on available loan facilities and simplify the process of having access for smallholder women farmers.

"Government should release farm inputs on time. The collection centres should be sited very close to the farmers for easy access.

They also suggested that government should employ more extension agents and mobilise them adequately for effective services. Government should provide sufficient motorcycles and monitoring vehicles to aid the work of EBADEP and extension workers.

They stressed thé need to create a forum for consultation and participation of smallholder women farmer organisations and Civil Society Organisations in the agriculture budget preparation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation processes.

The stakeholders urged government to provide labour saving technologies like power tillers, planters, harvesters; as this will be of great help especially, to the smallholder women farmers and increase productivity."