By Roundoffnews

Rice production in Ekiti State has received a boost with the release of a grant of $148, 209 (N55 million) to provide modern equipment for local farmers.

The grant which was facilitated by a civil society organisation, the New Initiative for Social Development (NISD), was to assist rice farmers on Gbonyin Local Government Area with equipment like power tillers and combined harvesters.

The agreement for the grant was signed by the Ambassador of Japan in Nigeria, Mr. Kikuta Yutaka and NISD Programmes Manager, Mr. Martins Ogunlade.

The Ekiti State Government was represented at the signing ceremony by Commissioner for Agriculture, Mr. Folorunso Olabode; Special Adviser to the Governor on Development Partnerships, Mrs. Margaret Fagboyo and Special Assistant to the Governor on Civil Society Matters, Mr. Biodun Oyeleye.

The scheme was floated under the Japanese Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects.

Speaking at the ceremony, Ambassador Yutaka expressed confidence that the public-private partnership assistance would boost rice production in Ekiti State.

He said the Japanese Embassy in Nigeria would monitor the project and ensure that the deal was implemented to the letter.

The envoy said the project which was initiated by NISD would be implemented in collaboration with Toyota Tsusho Corporation which expected to provide agricultural equipment from Yanmar Company Limited and Mahindra Agricultural Machinery Company Limited.

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.

While noting that the contract would be completed one year after the contract date, Ogunlade described the project as “a boost to food security not only in Ekiti but in Nigeria.”

Oyeleye commended the Japanese Embassy for giving the civil society an opportunity to contribute towards achieving the five-pillar agenda of the Fayemi administration.

He added Ekiti State Government was poised to enter into such partnerships with more development partners in other partners of the economy.