‘Rice importation in Nigeria ridiculous’

Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka

Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka

President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Prof. Shinichi Kitaoka, has described the importation of rice by Nigeria as ‘ridiculous,’ given its natural endowments for agricultural revolution in Africa.

Kitaoka, in an interview with journalists on his first visit, said the country has huge agriculture potentials which when utilised, would triple its export of rice to other countries.

He said JICA has executed projects worth over N600 billion since it came into Nigeria. He said: “My understanding is that, Nigeria is key to all Africa and if the country becomes unstable, it is difficult to expect Africa as a whole to be stable and develop.

“Nigeria is a rich country and I am impressed by the green land and the huge potential of more and more agricultural production.”According to him, as an ambassador to Japan in the United Nations between 2004 -2006, he was involved in the Security Council’s Reforms Movement, stressing that both Japan, Germany, Brazil and Indian formed G-4 and made reforms to tackle security challenges in their respective countries.

Kitaoka said: “Eleven years after my contact with ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo, in terms of the economy, Nigeria was number two after South-Africa. Today, Nigeria is the most important country in Africa in terms of population and economic size, even with the difficulty in the northeast and the sharp drop in oil revenue.

“But we need a stable Africa, prosperous Africa and Nigeria’s development and stability is a key to that. So, our interests are in general and not very specific. In my meeting with the government officials, nothing has been opened yet, but there are a couple of things that we are thinking about.”

He disclosed that the agency’s biggest plans in the future is the urban mass transit system in Lagos, in line with our universal programmes for all the developing countries.

“Countries are expanding very rapidly and therefore, transportation is the key and that’s the kind of place we can assist to effectively help the lives of the Nigerian people. The process of feasibilities studies has started and when completed, it would be very unique.

“We have already started discussion with the Lagos State Government through LAMATA, a transportation agency,” he added.Kitaoka added that Japan has been helping other South East Asian countries in developing their region and expanding to African countries.

“Our support stems from public’s health, education, agriculture and to some extent, infrastructure. We have had a unique approach on health, we have been engaging in the activities of the eradication of polio in this country together with the Gates Foundation,” he said

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