From Esther Akaa, Lafia
The Nasarawa State Government has signed a memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA), a non profit organisation on climate-smart technologies for rice production and processing.
A statement by the Communication Officer of SAA, Mr Moses Nongoatse and made available to Journalists in Lafia on Monday said, the MoU is also on revitalising rice cooperatives in the state.
According to him, the agreement will also strengthen the state’s extension system through the Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme (NADP).
He explained that the project tagged “Revitalisation of rice cooperatives and decarbonisation of rice production and processing” is funded by the Japanese Government and being implemented by SAA with the support of the NADP.
He said under the project, SAA has already commenced the construction of two climate-smart rice storage and processing centres in Obi and Lafia local government areas of the state, adding that the facilities are 90 % completed and would cater for the training needs of beneficiaries.
The Communication Officer further revealed that the signing ceremony held recently at the Nasarawa State Investment Development Agency (NASIDA).
Nongoatse said that during the signing of the MoU, the Country Director of SAA in Nigeria, Dr Godwin Atser, explained that the project would empower rice farmers, strengthen cooperatives involved in rice production in the state as well as pilot technologies to mitigate the impact of climate change in agriculture starting with rice production.
He quoted the Country Director to have said, “Climate change is affecting our lives, and agriculture is challenged due to the emission of greenhouse gases.
“Our farmers are no longer sure of planting time and harvest time, and new pests and diseases are ravaging; all because of climate change. This is why the world is talking about ‘Net Zero’-balancing the amount of greenhouse gases emitted and the amount absorbed. This means we must aim to sequester as much carbon as we emit, hence, the need to decarbonise.
“So, decarbonisation- reducing the carbon we release as a result of our agricultural activities, is the essence of this project. It is a pilot project for Nasarawa and we shall scale it up across the state and then throughout the country.”
The Statement added that the Chief Executive Officer of NASIDA, Barr Ibrahim Abdullahi, represented by his Chief of Staff, Mike Imafido, who signed the agreement on behalf of the state government, expressed gladness that the project commenced even before the formalisation of the agreement.
Abdullahi said the delay in the formalisation of the agreement was due to the need to fine-tune the details and ensure that mechanisms for sustainability and smooth take-off were put in place.
“It is clear that SAA commenced with the project because of the confidence they have in our commitment to any programme that will benefit our people. More than 70 per cent of the population is involved in agricultural activities, so this is an important step. NASIDA promotes and attracts investments to the Nasarawa economy and this is one critical investment that we are passionate about because of its transformative benefits to our people,” the Communication Officer quoted NASIDA boss.
The statement further stated that the team also visited project sites, with the the SAA boss explaining that the facilities were designed to transform and decarbonise rice storage and processing.
It added that the processors would be provided with machines that will convert rice husk to briquettes to become a source of clean energy for use or sell.
“This will reduce cutting down of trees, and use of firewood, thereby reducing carbon emissions. On the production side, we’ll train farmers to farm sustainably and increase soil health using bokashi and biochar, ” he added.
The Communication Officer said the Executive Director of the Nigerian Stored Products Research Institute (NSPRI), Prof Lateef Sanni who was part of the visit hailed the quality of the facility being installed and assured the team that his institute would support the project with its innovative resources.
Also, the Managing Director of the Kano State Agricultural Development Agency (KNARDA), Dr Farouq Kurawa; assured that Kano State government would adapt parts of the project to similar interventions ongoing under the KSADP, for which SAA was also an implementing partner.
He listed others who were part of the visit to include; the Programme Manager of the NADP, Comrade Emmanuel Alanana, State Project Coordinator of the Kano State Agropastoral Project (KSADP), Alh Ibrahim Garba Muhammad, and the KSADP Project Coordinator for SAA, Comrade Abdulrasheed Hamisu Kofarmata, among others.