Namibian Students Excel in Japan

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By Surihe Gaomas Tokyo, Japan The first two Namibian students who received financial assistance from Japan last year to study in that country are determined to come and help in the fight against poverty in the country once they complete their studies. The duo, 24-year-old Nanhapo Pamwenafye Inatulila and 34-year- old Awala Simon Kamwele, have been pursuing their Masters Degree studies in Crop Science at the University of Nagoya in Japan. Nanhapo, a crop scientist in the Crop Science Department of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Namibia (Unam), is the first Namibian to receive a scholarship from the Government of Japan. Awala, an agricultural researcher in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, is conducting his MSc degree at Nagoya University under a different programme called the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The two students were optimistic that acquired skills and knowledge in Japan would give them an upper hand in developing Namibia’s agricultural sector, especially in terms of increased food production. “I am learning many techniques here, which I will use in my country,” said Nanhapo when asked how he has so far found his studies abroad. “Its not all about learning new techniques, but looking at ways how to make them more adaptable to our country’s situation at home,” echoed Awala. Word from their lecturers and professors in the Graduate School of Bio-Agricultural Sciences confirmed that both students are performing quite well in their studies and show great commitment. “Like, for instance, Awala is a very hard worker and sits up until 11 and 12 o’clock at night doing his research,” said Associate Professor of Crop Science, Dr Morio Iijima. As part of their course work, they are venturing into knowing the techniques of rice-growing, bio-pest control and milk preservation, amongst others. “Even though we are learning here, we are doing field experiments in Namibia,” added Awala who is currently at Ogongo Agricultural College for rice experiment fieldwork until December 15. While 70 percent of Namibia’s population live in rural areas, most of them depend on agricultural production for a living. Yet it turns out that 90 percent of the vegetables consumed here are imported from South Africa. In light of this situation, Professor of the International Cooperation Centre for Agricultural Education ICCAE, Dr Hiroyuki Takeya, said that with the high degree of poverty, food shortage and environmental degradation in many African countries, the government of Japan is keen to transfer modern agricultural techniques into such countries. This is mainly through African scholars and researchers who study in Japan, or even Japanese experts dispatched to those countries at grassroots level. “Its about delivering Japanese knowledge to Africa by Japanese researchers,” said Professor Takeya. Through the ICCAE, Namibia became the first African country to benefit from agricultural research in the two-year project conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) from 2002 to 2004. This was meant to assist Namibia in building its human resource capacity of the Faculty of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Namibia. As a result, three teaching staff in the Department of Crop Science and Natural Resources and Conservation were trained to develop their skills for agricultural development, which further empowers local subsistence farmers. It is believed that sharing expertise and knowledge in agriculture between Namibia and Japan will go a long way in addressing food security and poverty alleviation.