Africa fails to raise agricultural allocation to 10% of budget
UK based charity ActionAid highlights that, of 49 countries, only Ethiopia, Niger, Mali, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea have consistently reached the 10 per cent budget target. (Image: RNW)
Small holder farmers in most African countries are faced with an agricultural crisis because a pledge made as far back as 2003 has not been kept.
Ten years ago, the Maputo Declaration of the African Union promised to raise the agricultural budgets across African nations to 10% of the national budgets within five years.
International aid agency ActionAid draws attention to the fact that African governments have failed to provide sufficient money for agriculture, resulting in a hunger epidemic.
In a recently released report titled ‘Walking the Talk’, the UK based charity highlights that, of 49 countries, only Ethiopia, Niger, Mali, Malawi, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Guinea have consistently reached the 10 per cent budget target.
Also, while 2014 has been nominated the Year of Agriculture and Food Security by African Heads of State and Government, this will be useless rhetoric unless governments are willing to spend on agriculture.
However, in the decade to 2013, most African governments have continued to allocate only an average of five per cent to agriculture despite increasing food expenses.
Also, nowadays women are increasingly interested in working on agricultural land in many African countries, but they are ignored because much of the agricultural expenditure is not focused on the real needs of the millions of smallholder farmers.
Failure to give support to farmers reduces food production and food security in Africa, which has resulted in a whopping 223 million people suffering from hunger.
The low allocation to agriculture does not reflect the ground reality that most of Africa’s citizens earn their living by farming.
African farmers constitute the largest socio-economic group and produce most of the continent’s food and without the ability to develop agriculture, the number of people going hungry will increase.
There are ways for governments to find extra resources for agriculture. Governments can start reducing military spending as in Zambia more is spent on defence rather than on agriculture and it is the same for Nigeria where the spending on defence is four times more than on a basic sector like agriculture. Each year, budget allocated to security in Uganda is twice more than that allocated to agriculture.
Tax exemptions such as corporate income tax holidays given to companies can be reduced or abolished by the governments. According to a recent research by ActionAid and the Tax Justice Network Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda made a loss of more than US$2.8 billion a year from tax incentives and exemptions that their governments provide.
Women farmers can decrease the number of hungry people in the world by 12 to 17 per cent because they can increase yields on their farms by 25 to 30 per cent.
To decrease hunger, policy towards women farmers should be reviewed by the government on how they will reorient spending to focus on the majority of food and agricultural producers in the country. Access to information on the crops grown by women farmers need to be provided as well as market facilities. Appropriate technologies should be given to them and also equal access to premium land.