Chairman Senate committee on Agriculture, Emmanuel Bwacha, has described the allocation to the agriculture sector in the 2013 budget proposal as a sad story for agriculture.
Bwacha who said this at the seminar of the ongoing national agric show in Keffi, Nasarawa state said he was demoralised by the meagre 83 billion naira allocated to the sector out of the over four trillion naira budget proposal.
He, however expressed hope that the tariff placed on food importation, especially rice, will help spur agricultural growth.
"83 billion including recurrent expenditure for agriculture is very, very small. It cannot do anything. And that is why we must call all who are interested in the project Nigeria to give agriculture a very serious attention," he said.
Senator Abdullahi Adamu also pointed out that 83 billion naira is just, 1.7 % of the budget, a far cry from the 10% African Union member states agreed to commit to agriculture in the Maputo declaration.
He said:"There is a limit to what anyone can do no matter how good he is with this kind of meagre resources. But like my chairman said it is the duty of the National Assembly to appropriate, it is our hope that the proposal which has been presented will receive the attention it deserved, and that where we can we will panel beat the proposal as it will help agriculture."
Nigeria loses 1.37 million jobs to rice importation annually
The head of USAID market Nigeria, a United States Agency for International Development funded-project, Timothy Prewitt said Nigeria loses 1.37 million full time jobs every year to the countries it imports rice from.
According Mr Prewitt, if the 2.5 million tonnes of rice Nigeria imports annually are cultivated at home 1.37 million full time jobs will be kept in the country with higher job creation prospects if the same is done on wheat importation.
He said: "If you adopt a higher quality seed, and you applied the fertilizer and you keep you farm clear of weeds and you apply crop protection products; if you do everything that is required to grow the high quality rice and you own a hecter of land, you need 177 additional labour days on your farm.
" If you don't do that then someone in Thailand, Vietnam or India do it, they are going to put that labour on their farm, and they are going to be paying premium for it. That is just a one hecter of land, 177 days.
"How many jobs are lost each year to rice? If take 2.5 million tonnes of rice, which is the estimated number of the imports, and you need 1.7 million hecters of land to grow that rice, and believe me Nigeria has those hecters of land, you have 98 million hecters of land you have 177 labour days that if you were to replace all of that imported rice, you will have 13.7 million passing months of employment. And how many full time jobs is that divided by 12? Thats 1.37 million full time jobs, just on replacing rice alone."
Professor Tunji Orokoyo of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria said the bulk of the imported rice are expired food stuffs that are not as good as locally produced rice.
In her remark, the Kano state commissioner for agriculture, Dr Baraka Sani, called for introduction of hybrid, high-milk-yielding cows to empower Fulani pastoralists economically so that they will be able to cater for their cattle without having to move about, thereby avoiding the perennial farmers/pastoralist clash.