An agriculture expert,Dr Tony Bello, says the size of a country’s budget does not matter much provided that it is designed to make a meaningful impact on the lives of the citizens.
Bello, a onetime Senior Technical Adviser to former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, gave the insight in an interview with the News men in Lagos .
He said that the amount allocated to the agriculture sector in the 2018 budget should not be based on the African Union’s Malabo Declaration of 2014 for the sector.
“We have to go back to the Malabo Declaration (which recommends) that agricultural budget should be in the tune of 10 per cent of our national budget, but I have to say, if I think back to what the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) was all about.
“We were able to accomplish much with whatever that budget was.
“If we begin to change our mindset on how you leverage budget, I don’t consider anything being too small.
“Right now what you are given, what do we do with it and I think that’s where the real opportunity is, it’s not the size of the budget but how do you leverage catalytic impact with the little that you have in your hands.’’
African Union leaders in 2014 replaced the Maputo Declaration which had recommended the allocation of10 per cent of a country’s national budget to the agriculture sector, with a new `Malabo Declaration`.
The Malabo Declaration, which seeks to cut poverty rates to half by 2025 through agriculture-led economic growth, stipulates that 10 per cent of Nigeria’s budget be appropriated to the farming sector.
The key purpose of the Malabo meeting was to review the plan for making crop, livestock and fisheries the centrepiece of Nigeria’s economic development agenda
Bello, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of a food processing company, called for significant improvement in governance as it would go a long way towards ensuring the emergence of a properly designed budget.
He added that the current administration, under President Muhammadu Buhari, should be commended for fighting corruption.
“I think until we improve significantly in the area of governance which this administration has done a fantastic job of addressing corruption, it is rather difficult to start talking about budget numbers.
“Let us have budget, even if it is 10 dollars, what do you do with the 10 dollars, accountability for that 10 dollars I think is much more important than if it is 10 dollars versus 100 dollars.