Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) is partnering Nigeria in developing the agriculture sector in rice production with over 3, 500 Nigerians benefiting from its training programme abroad.

The Chief Representative of JICA, Mr. Seki Tetsuo, disclosed this at a one-day seminar titled: “Agribusiness and Investment” organised by JICA Alumni Association of Nigeria in Abuja. He explained that JICA specifically targeted the rice sub-sector as a result of the comparative advantage that Japan has developed in rice production and processing over decades.

He stressed the need for diversification of the economy with efficient rice production for Nigeria where agriculture accounts for over 40 per cent of the gross domestic product and employs more than 60 per cent of the population. Tetsuo, who was represented by the agency’s Senior Representative, Mr. Kodama Hiroshi, said that JICA has two major activities for the Nigerian rice sector. “The first is the Rice Post-Harvest Processing and Marketing Pilot Project (RIPMAPP) in Nasarawa and Nigeria States. The objective of RIPMAPP is to improve the quality of post-harvest rice produced in these states, through the introduction of simple technologies that improve the parboiling and processing activities of small and medium scale actors.

“Through this project, it is our hope that these processing activities will increase their productivity and transform their activities into sustainable rice processing businesses. “The second activity that we are involved in is known as the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD). CARD is a regional initiative led by several stakeholders including JICA, AfricaRice, FAO, IFPRI, World Bank, IRRI, with the overall goal of doubling rice production in the African continent over a ten year period. CARD currently has 23 member countries including Nigeria,” he said.

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