Source:| Ngwenekome Priscilia Ahone, Cameroon (Yaounde)

The Japanese government has released one billion FCFA to upgrade rice production in Cameroon following an agreement Japan recently signed with the ministry of Economy, planning and spatial planning better known in its French acronym, MINEPAT, in Yaounde.

The signing ceremony that occurred in the presence of the Minister of Agriculture, Gabriel Mbaïrobe, was between the Japanese Ambassador to Cameroon Tsutomu Osawa, and the Minister of MINEPAT Alamine Ousmane Mey on 20 August. The offer which consist of some agricultural equipment worth 20 million Yen (one billion FCFA) is said to be for the Irrigated and Rainfed Rice Development Project, PRODERIP, in the forest zone of the country.

Talking to the press after the signing ceremony, the ambassador said that the intention of their donation is to strengthen the agricultural and food sector of Cameroon. “Japan wants to contribute in improving the food sector of this country by increasing the quality production of rice through this offer and also to upgrade the little industries”, he said.

While Minister Ousmane Mey stated that this financial assistance will bring in Japanese technicians to train the nations farmers on how to improve yields in the production of rice, which will in turn increase the number of farmers in the country. He further revealed that this agreement is to reduce the rate of rice imports and to improve the nation’s trade balance. “Getting equipments to better our local production will reduce rice imports which will on the other hand help us to secure our food and balance our national and international trade”, he said.

It should be noted that the PRODERIP project had also been implemented in the Centre, South, East and North-West regions of the country since 2016.

The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), it should be recalled had trained close to 10,000 farmers and distributed nearly 75,000 tons of rice seeds since PRODERIP was launched in 2011.

Given the fact that Cameroons production of rice hasn’t crossed 300,000 tons per year for a moment now, with the national demand being 600,000 tons, this offer is therefore like a savior to the Rice production department of Cameroon.

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