By Dirisu Yakubu
The Japanese government has signed a $298,095 partnership contract with the Nasarawa and Kwara state governments to boost rice production.
The project, an initiative of the Nasarawa Agricultural Development Program, NADP and the Tabitha Cumi Foundation will be implemented in collaboration with Toyota Tsusho Corporation and Olam Nigeria Limited, under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects, GGP.
At the contract signing ceremony in Abuja on Friday, Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gana Yisa pledged the commitment of Japan to the growth and development of agriculture in Nigeria.
Yisa added that the project would see the Asian giant assist the beneficiaries with power tillers and combined harvesters in Doma and Edu local government areas in Nasarawa and Kwara states respectively.
According to the ambassador, “Japan and Nigeria are two rice consuming nations and so we believe this partnership will go a long way in strengthening our bilateral cooperation particularly in the area of agriculture.”
He commended the two states for their robust agricultural policies, stressing that when properly harnessed, agriculture can replace oil as the nation’s major revenue earner.
Speaking on behalf of the Nasarawa state government, Professor Otaki Alanana, Commissioner of Agriculture and Water Resources described the initiative as laudable, urging the Japanese government to take advantage of the agricultural potentials in the country for investment purposes.
Executive Director of the Tabitha Cumi Foundation, Tayo Erinle said with the grant, a good number of women and rural dwellers would be assisted to tackle the challenges of unemployment and poverty.
She said: “Our foundation is working directly with about 2,000 farmers, especially women. We have been partnering with Japanese government for long and they have assisted us in taking many women back to the classrooms. Now, with this grant, we are shifting to agriculture.
“There is no telling how far this will go in assisting rural dwellers to make their dreams come true. On our part, we shall continue to do everything possible, as a faith-based organization, to assist the less privileged members of the society.”
So far, over 170 projects worth about $12 million have been implemented under the GGP scheme.