Japan Offers $148, 209 Grant For Rice Production In Ekiti


ADO-EKITI – The renewed commitment of the Kayode Fayemi-led administration in Ekiti State towards revamping the agricultural had begun to pay off as foreign investors have shown interest in the sector. 

The governor, in his second coming inaugural speech, had promised to build on his initial policies which made agriculture more attractive to the youths in Ekiti, through revamping of the Youths In Commercial Agriculture Development (YCAD) where hundreds of youths were engaged. 

Significantly, government had also cleared about 1500 hectares of land for Agribusiness in line with the one of the thematic areas of the Ekiti Youths Agenda (EYA). 

Interestingly, Ekiti has comparative advantage in Rice production and one of its products “IGBIMO RICE” is arguably the best local delicacy in Nigeria today. 

However, efforts are been geared towards motivating local farmers as well as interested youths in increasing the production of the commodity for commercial purpose. 

In the light of this, a civil society organization, the New Initiative for Social Development (NISD) is attracting a huge investment from the Government of Japan to boost the capacity of local rice farmers. 

The NISD has entered into a pact with the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria to provide farmers in Ekiti State with modern equipment to boost rice production and make the state one of the leading rice producers in Nigeria. 

The organization was presented with a cheque of $148, 209 by the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Kikuta Yutaka. 

The project is being driven under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects. 

The project will be implemented in collaboration with Toyota Tsusho Corporation which will provide agricultural equipment from Yanmar Co., Ltd. and Mitsubishi Mahindra Agricultural Machinery Co. Ltd to the farmers in Ekiti State. 

The Japanese Embassy hopes that this public-private partnership assistance will contribute to increasing rice production in Ekiti. 

The Japanese Government through its Embassy in Nigeria is investing in the project of provision of power tillers and combined harvesters for rice farmers in Gbonyin Local Government Area of the state. 

The Special Assistant to Governor Fayemi on Civil Society, Biodun Oyeleye, who is the immediate past Executive Director of the NISD, said that the state government’s investment drive has been yielding dividends which he noted would benefit the people and the economy. 

“We really appreciate the Japan Government through their Embassy in Nigeria for supporting the civil society in Ekiti to bring development to Ekiti State. 

“The support given to NISD is to assist the state government in achieving the five-pillar development agenda under agriculture and civil society has contributed to the government in achieving this development. 

“It’s a very great opportunity given to us by Japan for the civil society to contribute towards achieving the five pillars agenda of Mr. Governor and we are looking forward to such partnerships, this should not be a one-off,” he added. 

The grant which was facilitated by NISD is already causing excitement and sense of fulfillment in the Ekiti State government and the local farmers who will benefit from the project. 

While Ambassador Kikuta signed on behalf of the Japanese Government, Mr. Martins Ogunlade, the Program Manager of NISD signed on behalf of his agency. 

According to the contract documents sighted by our reporter, the Donor (Government of Japan) will make available to the Recipient (NISD) the grant of $148, 209 or its local currency equivalent as of the date of disbursement by March 31, 2020. 

The Japanese Embassy hopes that this public-private partnership assistance will contribute to increasing rice production in Ekiti. 

In accepting the grant, the Recipient agrees to provide the Donor with documents relevant to the project such as procurement contracts for products and/or services upon request by the Donor. 

Ogunlade promised that the grant would be properly and exclusively used for the purchase of products and services necessary for the execution of the project as stated in the agreement. 

The NISD chief promised transparency in the disbursement of the funds as the agency would not use products and services purchased with the grant other than the execution of the project, without acquiring prior written approval from the Donor. 

Ogunlade further explained that series of reports on the progress of the project would be forwarded to the Japanese Government to ensure effective monitoring. 

The reports, according to him, include project completion report (including an audit report on the grant issued by an independent accounting body) to be provided upon the completion of the project. 

Ogunlade explained that the report would outline achieved results in the light of the original goals and objectives as stated in the application proposal for the project which was expected to include accounting report of the allocation and disbursement of the grant. 

While noting that the contract would be completed one year after the contract date, Ogunlade noted that the rice project is a boost to food security not only in Ekiti State but also in Nigeria. 

He pointed out that the provision of the facilities would boost the capacity of rice farmers in the targeted area and ensures that the staple food is made available in commercial quantity. 

The Commissioner for Agriculture, Folorunso Olabode, who thanked the Japanese Embassy for investing in rice production in Ekiti State said that Governor Fayemi appreciates the gesture. 

He said that Ekiti needs more support from development partners to boost food security and create more job opportunities for its people. 

The Commissioner further promised that every equipment given to Ekiti State would be judiciously used and also assured on their maintenance and sustainability. 

A rice farmer in Imesi Ekiti, Femi Alowonle said: “We are very lucky in Gbonyin Local Government because this is one of the major rice belts in Ekiti. Provision of tillers and harvesters will make our jobs easier and we thank the government of Japan for this. 

“This modern equipment will assist us to produce more and besides, it will attract more young men and women into rice production because our young generation doesn’t want to work with bare hands again.” 

Another rice farmer in Egbe Ekiti, also in Gbonyin Local Government, Ola Ogunmodede, heaped praises on the Japanese government and NISD for making the feat possible. 

Ogunmodede said: “We rice farmers have formed ourselves into cooperatives to be able to access loans and inputs and the provision of modern farming methods by the Japanese will help us realize our dreams. 

“The rehabilitation of Egbe Dam by the Ekiti State government which will soon be completed is also a major boost for rice production.” 

A member of Rice Growers Association in Ekiti State, Bode Lucas, urged the government of Japan and other development partners collaborating with the Ekiti State government to extend the gesture to rice farmers in other parts of the state. 

We appreciate what the government of Japan has done for our colleagues in Gbonyin but we have rice farmers in virtually all the local government areas in Ekiti State. 

“Investment in rice production is capable of turning Ekiti State into a major rice producer that can rival Kebbi, Ebonyi and other states because what the farmers need here is support in the areas of credit facilities and state-of-the-art equipment,” he said. 

Read Original Report Here By Independent

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