By Ikenna Uwadileke
The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Nigeria Office, on Thursday in Abuja, donated field inspection kits worth N20 million to the National Agricultural Seeds Council (NASC) to boost rice production in Nigeria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the items donated by JICA include 37 Global Positioning System (GPS) devices, 85 PVC boots, 85 safety overall and 85 face shields.
Presenting the items, Mr Nakagawa Takayuki, Chief Representative, JICA Nigeria Office, said that the support would strengthen the capacity of NASC to conduct better field inspection for increased and improved rice seeds production.
“On behalf of the government of Japan, I hereby hand over these 37 GPS devices, 85 PVC boots, 85 safety overall, 85 face shields for distribution to NASC seed inspection offices across the country.
“Using this opportunity, I hereby also handover 33 sets of paddy quality assessment tools, although the tools are not here today, we expect them to be delivered to the council in early September,’’ he said.
Takayuki expressed confidence that the support would enable the Seeds Council to conduct better field inspection for seed companies to increase and improve their seeds.
He said: “It is important to strengthen the capacity of field inspection by NASC for increased production of quality paddy seeds.
“This will contribute to the increase in rice production so that the risk of food insecurity can be mitigated.’’
While recounting the consequences of COVID-19 accompanied by sharp fall in oil and decline in the value of naira to food security in Nigeria, Takayuki stressed the need for the country to increase domestic food production.
According to him, increasing domestic food production is important and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development made it a high priority as an emergency action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Since one of the most important inputs for rice cultivation is seeds, it is necessary to increase the supply of quality seeds to increase rice production.
“NASC bears important responsibility in rice production, as NASC is the exclusive organisation responsible to inspect and certify breeder, foundation and certified seeds in Nigeria.
“As a part of certifying the seed, NASC dispatches its field inspection officers to the field where rice seeds are cultivated by seed companies.
“Taking an opportunity to visit the fields, the field inspection offices provide seeds farmers technical advices to appropriately cultivate seeds,’’ Takayuki said.
Receiving the items, the Director General of NASC, Dr Phillip Ojo, commended JICA for demonstrating commitment to support Nigeria to be self-sufficient in rice production.
Ojo said that the support from JICA would contribute to the council’s efforts in improving quality of rice seeds in the country.
While assuring that the materials would be deployed to the field immediately for use, Ojo also commended JICA for the planned initiative towards establishing Africa Field Innovation Centre for Agricultural Technology (AFICAT).
He said that the AFICAT would serve as a base for promoting advance technologies and agricultural mechanisation to enhance agricultural productivity and quality of agricultural products in Nigeria. (NAN)