The Japanese government has donated 20 rice reapers and 20 rice threshers to small scale farmers in Awe, Obi and Keana Local Government Areas of Nasarawa State.
Speaking in Azara, Awe LGA, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Yutaka Kikuta, said that the donation was under the Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Project, GGP, under which the Japanese embassy, within two decades, have funded 170 projects across Nigeria, worth over 12 million U.S. dollars.
Mr Kikuta, further explained that the scheme is designed to provide mechanized rice farming equipment to increase and improve the quantity and quality of rice produced by rice farmers, towards enhancing the economic well-being of communities in the three local government areas.
The Japanese ambassador added that the development in agricultural sector, is in line with the themes of the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development, TICAD7, with the Japanese government pledging to further support economic transformation in Africa.
He also said the initiative is expected to be achieved through the promotion of innovation in agriculture, developing and expanding agricultural technologies, increasing income of small farmers through the Small Holder Horticulture Empowerment and Promotion, SHEP, among others.
Mr Yutaka noted that before the commencement of the project in 2011, local farmers recorded over 20 per cent loss of harvested rice due to damage from traditional method of threshing as well as additional cost of hiring manual labour.
“With the introduction of 20 rice reapers and 20 threshers, it’s our expectation that this will reduce time and loss of rice from reaping to threshing and save costs.
Also speaking, Governor Abdullahi Sule, commended the Japanese government for the choice of Nasarawa State farmers to benefit from the collaboration, considering the comparative advantage the state has in the rice value chain.
The governor disclosed that the state was blessed with 140, 000 hectares of land suitable for rice, with the state having a capacity to produce over 350, 000 tonnes of rice.
He said that through the GGP, 442 rice farmers were empowered and trained to improve rice production technologies, management, with 35 front line extension agents.
“Farmers were also trained in good agricultural practice, as well as 11 extension agents that were trained in Japan on improved rice production technologies and research methods.
Mr Sule described the event as yet another milestone in his administration’s determination to further strengthen the collaboration with the Japanese government, towards achieving the desired import substitution and backward integration policy of the Federal Government.
“This intervention is in tandem with the vision, development objectives of this administration, aimed at giving agriculture its pride of place as the major mover of our state economy,” he stated.
The governor however directed Ministry of Agriculture, as well as the Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme, to evolve a strategy to monitor the use of the reapers and threshers.