I was privileged to be nominated by the Zambian government under the Ministry of Agriculture to attend a 5 months training course on improvement of rice cultivation techniques and rice production for African countries in Cairo, Egypt with 16 other participants from 9 different African countries including 1 other participant from Zambia. This training which am currently undergoing is administered by the Egyptian International Centre for Agriculture (EICA) in collaboration with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The objective of this training course is to equip Africans working in the Ministry of Agriculture in their countries and in rice related projects with knowledge and skills in improved rice production techniques. This training stems from the realization that the demand for rice in African countries is increasing but the production and productivity is still lagging behind. Therefore, the production consumption gap continues to widen, thereby increasing the quantities and cost of rice importation.
I am excited to share my experiences through this exciting journey which has given my career a boost with all the new knowledge and experiences I am acquiring. We had a seminar on the 15th and 16th of September 2019 focusing on climate change and its impacts on the agriculture sector including the rice sub-sector. As participants from Zambia, I and my colleague shared a presentation on the status of climate change and its impacts on Zambia’s agriculture sector. Presentations were also shared by participants from 9 different African countries including Nigeria, Malawi, Burkina-Faso, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, Madagascar, Cameroun, Sudan, and Mozambique. As a policy fellow under the African Climate change Leadership Program (AfriCLP) carrying out research on “Enhancing the promotional and implementation strategies of Climate Smart Agriculture in Zambia” I found this seminar very useful as I was able to learn from others and also share my experience through my research.
It was a rare occasion in which we were all able to share our various experiences, challenges, risks and some of the interventions being made to increase adaptation and resilience to climate change in our countries. One of the things I realized through this seminar is that we are all experiencing common problems and challenges considering that most of our economies are deeply rooted in rain-fed agriculture. Therefore, we need to identify areas in which we can work together as Africans through win-win partnerships to adapt to climate change. During the seminar we were all able to recognize that we need to take advantage of our abundant water resources and invest in water harvesting and irrigation technologies because even though we boast of having abundant water resources as a region, it is useless if it cannot be utilized efficiently to help us avoid disastrous outcomes such as food shortages due to droughts. Zambia for instance has high irrigation potential possessing approximately 40% of the underground and surface water resources in the SADC region (Zambia Second National Agricultural Policy, 2016). Climate change is here to stay and so we must take effective adaptation measures for our current and future generations to end the cycle of poverty.