The Transformation Agenda (TA) clearly makes agriculture one of the key sectors and drivers of the economy that is to achieve socio-economic transformation of the country. The role of agriculture in transforming Nigeria is particularly significant because the sector contributes most to Nigeria’s GDP (about 40%); employs about 66% of the labour force; provides 80% of food consumed in Nigeria; and provides at least 50% of industrial raw materials needed in the country. But notwithstanding the demonstrated contribution and potentials of this sector, governments over the years have relegated it to secondary levels behind other less sustainably impacting sectors like oil and gas. With the TA of the present administration, agriculture comes to limelight as a potential vehicle for creating employment and improving the GDP growth rate of the country from 7.2% in 2011 to the desired 11.8% in 2015.
On the other hand, the budget is the second most important legal document of the nation after the constitution, and this is because it is a tool for allocating scarce resources of the country to sectors of the economy on an annual basis. In so doing it demonstrates government’s commitment and prioritisation among sectors, programmes and projects through the share of the budget that each gets. The sectors’ allocations usually reflect government policy and programmes as detailed in policy documents adopted by the administration at the time. The present government has adopted Transformation Agenda 2011-2015 as the blueprint for the nation’s socio-economic development with specific areas of focus including targets and strategies for realising them.
Given the established relation between government’s sector priorities and budget allocations, the budgetary allocation to agriculture becomes of interest for review so that government’s real commitment to the sector can be tested and since this 2014 budget is the fourth in the life of the TA, the budgetary trends would provide enough indication of government’s practical commitment to the sector and realizing the targets of the TA through Agriculture.
It is important to note that one clear objective succinctly captured in the TA is “to achieve a hunger free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerates achievement of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in global food markets to grow wealth for millions of farmers”. Therefore realizing the objectives of the Transformation Agenda will be essential to preserving stability in Nigeria.