The Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) and Japan Science and Technology Agency officially handed over the rice and mahangu project to the University of Namibia (Unam) and the Namibian Government.
The project has been running from the Ogongo Campus of Unam over the past five years and has trained Namibians in how rice and mahangu plants can co-exist and be interdependent to survive drought or floods.
Professor Mario Iijima was heading the project by teaching and training local farmers.
Iijima said what JICA offered to farmers is a new cropping system aimed at overcoming both floods and drought.
“This is the mixed seedling system which is the new concept of mixed cropping we developed here in Namibia. When the root system of two different species entangle each other, they help each other. Rice will offer oxygen to pearl millet in floodwater. Then pearl millet can mature in water. Under dry conditions pearl millet will offer water to rice. Then rice can mature under dry conditions,” he said.
Iijima said some of the local farmers were also able to build on the knowledge they acquired from the project and came up with their own inventions.
Such inventions include growing mahangu together with sorghum, which also helped the two crops to coexist and survive both drought and flood.
Omusati Regional Governor Erginus Endjala, who was the keynote speaker at the event, urged farmers who were trained by JICA to master the guidelines in order to improve production and also teach other farmers.
“I have also been told that in the guidelines we are advised to utilize oondombe and iishana within our crop fields for rice production, and also to practise mixed cropping of rice and local crops of pearl millet and sorghum in order to minimize the risk of total crop failure by either flood or drought. As you know, rice can survive flood, whereas mahangu can survive drought,” said Endjala.
During the event Endjala also conferred certificates to the project stakeholders whom he encouraged to continue working hard in the fight against hunger and poverty in Namibia.
“Let them serve as motivation to your work, be it to produce more food or to disseminate technological information necessary for improved food production. Most importantly, to serve as recognition of the very unique skills that you have acquired through the rice and mahangu project,” said Endjala.