By Babajide Okeowo
The Federal Government has stated that the country would soon close the rice production gap in Nigeria and meet the seven million metric tonnes the country needed to attain self-sufficiency.
This is even as it revealed that the rice production gap in Nigeria now stands at 500,000 metric tonnes.
This was made known by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Deputy Director, Information, Eno Olotu in a statement issued in Abuja.
The statement quoted the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Karima Babaginda, to have said this while receiving inputs on behalf of the FMARD from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
JICA provided the inputs to support rice smallholders in nine states of the federation in its first phase support to Nigeria.
Babaginda said the support for rice farmers would scale up rice production in Nigeria, adding that it would enhance the harvest of the produce in this year’s farming season.
According to her, with the support of JICA and other donor agencies, Nigeria would not only be self-sufficient in rice production but would soon be a major exporter, being the largest producer of rice in Africa currently.
Chief Representative of JICA in Nigeria, Nakagawa Takayuki, stated that JICA was providing agricultural inputs to 1,500 small scale rice farmers in Kwara, Nassarawa, Niger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi states for the dry season rice farming.
“We also plan to provide the inputs to 1,000 small scale farmers in 10 states, namely, Borno, Gombe, Kogi, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Taraba, and Oyo for the wet season farming,” he said.
Takayuki pledged JICA’s support to sustain its collaborative efforts with the ministry in supporting extension service providers and small scale farmers through capacity and infrastructural development.