The Japan International Agency (JICA) on Tuesday, donated agricultural inputs to 1,500 farmers across 10 states in Nigeria to cushion effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The farmers drawn from Edo, Ekiti, Kogi, Benue, Oyo, Ogun, Gombe, Borno, Katsina and Ebonyi benefited from the donations received through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

The Chief Representative, JICA Nigeria Office, Mr. Nakagawa Takayuki, while handing over the donations at Keffi said that the gesture was going to help mitigate the negative Impacts of COVID-19 on food security in Nigeria.

He said that JICA was donating the items on behalf of the Government of Japan to assist in the wet season rice farming in Nigeria.

“Agricultural activities in Nigeria has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and this has placed restrictions on the movement of people, goods, and services in order to curtail the spread of the virus.

“To further support the ministry, on behalf of the Government of Japan, JICA is providing another set of agricultural inputs to 1,500 small scale rice farmers in ten 10 states.

”Through the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and in collaboration with the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) at each target state.

“At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic accompanied by a sharp fall in oil price and decline in the value of the naira has ncreased the price of import goods including most agricultural inputs.

”Small scale farmers are more vulnerable to the price hike of agricultural inputs,” he said.

He described rice as a strategic crop for the achievement of national food security because of its importance as a major staple food in the country and cultivated in all parts of the country.

Takayuki, however, said tdemand had not been met because of rapid population growth and urbanisation.

In January 2021, JICA handed over 1500 set of agricultural input to 1500 small scale farmers in nine states to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

Items donated include 1,500 bags of certified rice seed, 6000 bags of NPK Fertilizer, 3,000 50kg per bags of Urea Fertilizer, 1,500 soil amender, 7,500 litres of herbicides and 6000 litres of insecticides.

A director in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr. Karimat Babangida, commended the efforts of the Japan Government so far in supporting the Nigerian farmers during the rainy season.

“On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural development especially the honorable Minister and permanent Secretary, I want to say a very big thank you for supporting the Nigeria rice farmers with inputs

“We appreciate and value the collaboration between Nigeria and the Japanese Government.

”I can assure you that our farmers will put this to very good use and we shall share feedbacks from states supported during the dry season.

“God bless the relationship between Nigeria and Japan,” she added.

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