The Ebonyi government on Thursday said that an increase in agricultural budgetary allocation would help the state to improve its capacity to increase production in rice and other agricultural production.
Mr Timothy Nwachi, Deputy Chief of Staff to the governor of Ebonyi stated this when he received stakeholders in agriculture on sensitisation roadwork led by members of the Agric Budget Plus Cluster (ABPC) to the Old Government House, Abakaliki.
Nwachi, who received the group on behalf of Gov. Francis Nwifuru noted the need for food security stressing that the state government would do everything possible to ensure food availability and that agriculture was given its pride of place.
He said that from the latest statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Ebonyi ranked fourth in rice production in the country emphasising that government was committed to sustaining the tempo.
The official stated that increasing budgetary allocation to the agricultural sector would not only boost rice production but would also help the state to improve other aspects of farm products.
He described the sensitisation campaign as a commendable initiative saying that 2.3 per cent was allocated to the agricultural sector in the 2023 fiscal year.
He assured that government would do everything to ensure that the remaining 2.7 per cent being agitated to increase the allocation to five per cent would be considered in the 2024 budget.
He said: “By the latest release from the National Bureau of Statistics, Ebonyi ranked fourth largest producer of rice among the rice-producing states in Nigeria.
” Having achieved this feat, an increase in agricultural budget will help the state further to improve on their capacity in terms of not just rice production but in other agricultural products.
“I can only say that I’m standing here on behalf of the Ebonyi state government to tell you that your message has been well received and that the document that has been handed over to me, we will sit down and look at it critically.”
Earlier, Mr Eni Chima, the team lead and programme manager of the Agric Budget Plus Cluster in his address thanked the state government for granting an audience to the group.
He said that the roadwork was designed to sensitise the public on the importance of engaging in agriculture as well as crave the indulgence of the government on the need to increase allocation to the agricultural sector by five per cent.
He also requested an advocacy engagement with the governor to enable the group to discuss further the issue of boosting agricultural production in the state through improved funding.
Also, Mrs Nancy Oko-Onya, a member of the team, highlighting the need for an increase in budgetary allocation to agriculture said that Ebonyi was an agrarian state and reputed for rice and yam farming in Nigeria.
Oko-Onya, the executive director of the Neighbourhood Initiative for Women in Agriculture (NIWA), whose organisation was part of the cluster said that all that they were asking for was that the Ebonyi government increased its allocation to agriculture by five per cent.
“Presently, what we are having is 2.3 per cent, so, we are asking for an additional 2.7 per cent to make the budgetary allocation to agriculture five per cent.”
Our correspondent reports that the Agric Budget Plus Cluster is a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Palladium-supported project.