The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development says there is a rice production gap of 500,000 metric tonnes in Nigeria.
A statement issued on Tuesday by the Deputy Director, Information at the ministry, Eno Olotu, said the country was on track to closing the gap and meet the seven million metric tonnes production capacity required for self-sufficiency.
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.
The ministry said the Japanese agency provided the inputs to support rice smallholders in nine states of the federation as part of its first phase support to Nigeria.
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Babaginda said the support for rice farmers would scale up rice production in Nigeria and enhance the harvest of the produce in this year’s farming season.
With the support of JICA and other donor agencies, the director said 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.
Thr 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 stressed that the agency was ready to sustain its collaborative efforts with the ministry in supporting extension service providers and small scale farmers through capacity and infrastructural development.