Nigeria’s rice production gap is now 500,000 metric tonnes, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) disclosed on Tuesday.
The Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Karima Babaginda, made the disclosure while receiving inputs on behalf of the FMARD from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
She, however, noted that Nigeria would soon close the gap and meet the seven million metric tonnes production capacity required to attain self-sufficiency.
Babaginda, in a statement issued by the Ministry’s Deputy Director of Information, Eno Olotu, said JICA provided the inputs to support rice smallholders in nine states of the federation in its first phase support to Nigeria.
She expressed optimism that 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.