By Staff Writer
A TWO-DAY workshop to capacitate farmers and government agricultural extension officers and researchers on high-yielding rice cultivation techniques kick-started in Harare yesterday.
Organised by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica), the seminar is bringing together rice farmers from across the country, with Jica rice technical adviser, Tatsushi Tsuboi, sharing insights on both lowland and upland rice cultivation, as well as spotlighting the New Rice for Africa (Nerica) variety.
Nerica is a cross-breed of African rice species known for their resistance to disease and drought and the high-yielding Asian rice species.
“There is potential for farmers here (in Zimbabwe) to better their yields.
“The researchers need to be capacitated to impart the knowledge to the extension officers and the farmers. It is about expanding seed production.
“Farmers need to breed the seeds then plant and after harvesting, that also becomes the seed as well and farmers can then share the seeds and that way production will go far,” rice expert Tsuboi told the Daily News on the sidelines of the seminar.
The Harare-workshop comes on the back of a visit by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa to Japan in November last year, where she met Tsuboi and held discussions on how local farmers can tap into the Asian giant’s expertise in rice farming.
The Nerica project has already been widely implemented in several African countries, including Guinea, Nigeria, Mali, Benin, Ivory Coast and Uganda.
Jica resident representative Kyosuke Kawazumi expressed optimism that with the right recommendations and technical capacitation of local researchers, Zimbabwe can benefit from Jica’s assistance in farmers capacity building in implementing the Nerica project.
“We are waiting to hear the recommendations from (Dr) Tsuboi and the local researchers here, and as Jica we will sit down and discuss to see how best we can assist in capacity-building of farmers in the future.
“We want to expand our activities here in Zimbabwe,” he said.
In Zimbabwe, Jica is working on activities including the facilitation for smooth integration into the southern African regional economy through the road improvement of the northern part of the North-South corridor, effective utilisation of resources through empowering smallholder farmers to practice market-oriented agriculture and offering fully sponsored Master’s degree and internship programme of African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative) and lastly, the agency is also assisting in the provision of quality health services, through the Kaizen approach, to ensure human security for vulnerable people and social development – HARARE