The Director-General of International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Dr Nteranya Sanginga, has explained that lack of enough budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector by most African countries is responsible for hunger in the continent.
He cited examples of Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the government usually budgeted not more than two percent to the agricultural sector.
President Muhammadu Buhari allocated N291.4 billion (1.8 percent) to the agriculture sector in the 2022 budget. Budgetary allocation for agriculture in 2021 was 1.37%; 1.34% in 2020; 1.56% in 2019; 2% in 2018 and 1.70% in 2017.
- National carrier not realistic — Senate
- Anambra gov’ship: Uba, 10 others head to tribunal as Soludo wins forgery suit
Sanginga, the Director General of the 54-year-old international institute who spoke at a media interactive parley in Ibadan said unless adequate attention is paid to agriculture by African leaders, it might be difficult to attain food sufficiency in the continent.
“In Africa, you hear every head of state say agriculture is a priority but when you go to the budget, agriculture is the least of the budget.
“African leaders are not serious about agriculture at all. I’d say almost 90 percent of the countries in Africa still consider agriculture as a social activity, so they are waiting for donors, foreigners to finance agriculture with grants. You can never be serious with that.”
Speaking further, Sanginga said, lack of vision by leaders had been further compounded by lack of their commitment to agricultural development, as reflected in the quantum of resources being allocated to the sector on yearly basis.
“With all the resources available to DRC, the country still imports more than 70 percent of food items, such as rice, beans and fish. Its annual budgetary allocation to agriculture is about 1.7 per cent, while in Nigeria, it is not more than two per cent.
“The situation is also the same in most other African countries. With these, how can we say that African leaders are serious about attaining food security in the continent?” he queried.
The director-general reeled out his achievements in the last 10 years that he had been in the saddle, especially in the areas of creation of business incubation platforms, setting up the youth agripreneurs programme, the implementation of ‘Start Them Early Project’ (STEP) and building of food processing units under the IITA leadership.
“One of my most important legacies has been the creation of IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA) programme which was aimed at addressing the high rate of unemployment among African youths, with agriculture sitting as a goldmine, waiting for explorers.
“More than 60 per cent of Africa’s estimated 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25 and yet, with little job creation. Whereas agriculture remains an essential driver of economic development and an area of great opportunities for young people in the continent,” he said.