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May 27, 2024

FG Signs Pact with Japan to Enhance Rice Seed Production, Others

The federal government has recently entered agreements with the Government of Japan and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to enhance rice seed production and bolster projects at the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), aimed at advancing the country’s socio-economic development. 

The agreements were signed in Abuja over the weekend by Senator Abubakar Bagudu, the Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, and Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, representing their respective governments.

Senator Abubakar Bagudu emphasized that these significant projects, aimed at improving Nigeria’s socio-economic landscape, were ideas that had been carefully developed and were now coming to fruition. 

He highlighted that these initiatives were aligned with Nigeria’s systems, with the primary goal being to empower smallholder farmers within families to thrive without being displaced by larger-scale farming operations and mechanization.

He specifically highlighted that the seed production project’s goal was to achieve self-sufficiency in rice production and replace imports, with a focus on improving the quality of breeder and foundation seeds. This includes acquiring equipment for rice cultivation, conducting tests, inspections, and improving post-harvest processing. Additionally, he mentioned that the agreement would strengthen the capabilities of the National Cereals Research Institution (NCRI) in Badeggi, Niger State, and its associated facilities. The planned project sites are located in Niger and Oyo States, as stated by the minister.

Regarding the NCDC support initiative, Senator Bagudu elaborated that it involves setting up biosafety level (BSL) 2 and 3 laboratories and equipping the National Reference Laboratory of NCDC. 

This information was conveyed in a statement by Julie Osagie-Jacobs, the Director of Information at the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning. The minister emphasized that this collaboration with the Japanese Government through JICA aims to strengthen infection disease surveillance and enhance national health security. The designated locations for these laboratories are Gaduuwa in Abuja and Yaba in Lagos State.

However, Kazuyoshi emphasized that these projects reflect the ongoing cooperation and shared dedication to improving the lives of Nigerian citizens. He mentioned that the Japanese Government has been supporting Nigeria’s efforts in combating infectious diseases within the health sector. 

Kazuyoshi added that strengthening the diagnostic capabilities of the NCDC would improve the country’s ability to detect and respond to infectious diseases, achieved through establishing a cutting-edge biosafety level 3 laboratory at the center. He also noted that Japan’s support extends to the agriculture sector, contributing to increased productivity, food security, and sustainable farming practices.

Regarding the rice seed project, Kazuyoshi explained that its aim is to meet Nigeria’s rising demand for rice by enhancing the quality of certified seeds and increasing production. 

He highlighted that Nigeria supplies 40% of the sesame seeds consumed in Japan, showcasing the high quality and global appeal of Nigerian agricultural products. Kazuyoshi reaffirmed Japan’s commitment to collaborating closely with Nigeria to accomplish shared objectives and build a more resilient and inclusive future for the country.

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