The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development disclosed in a statement issued in Abuja by the Deputy Director, Information, Eno Olotu on Tuesday that the rice production gap in Nigeria is now 500,000 metric tonnes.

The Federal Government is therefore optimistic that Nigeria would soon close the gap and meet the seven million metric tonnes production capacity required to attain self-sufficiency.

The statement quoted the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture, Karima Babaginda, to have said this while receiving inputs on behalf of the FMARD from the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.

In its first phase support to Nigeria, JICA provided the inputs to support rice smallholders in nine states of the federation. According to Babaginda, the support for rice farmers would scale up rice production in Nigeria and it would also enhance the harvest of the produce in this year’s farming season.

READ ALSO: Senate Raises Concern Over Power Ministry’s N478m in Mortgage Bank

With the support of JICA and other donor agencies, Babaginda is confident that Nigeria would not only be self-sufficient in rice production but would soon be a major exporter, being the largest producer of rice in Africa currently.

The Chief Representative of JICA in Nigeria, Nakagawa Takayuki said that JICA was providing agricultural inputs to 1,500 small scale rice farmers in Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Bauchi, Taraba, Kaduna, Kano, Jigawa and Kebbi states for the dry season rice farming.

“We also plan to provide the inputs to 1,000 small scale farmers in 10 states, namely, Borno, Gombe, Kogi, Benue, Ebonyi, Edo, Ekiti, Ogun, Taraba and Oyo for the wet season farming,” he said.

Takayuki pledged JICA’s support to sustain its collaborative efforts with the ministry in supporting extension service providers and small-scale farmers through capacity and infrastructural development.