Monday, January 16, 2017

Namibia eyes building ties with IRRI to boost its rice production

Commissioner Mutelo (third from right) looks forward to a potential partnership between IRRI and the University of Namibia to train its MS and PhD agriculture students. Also in photo (from right): Consul William Co, consulate of the Republic of Namibia, Rector Mutelo; IRRI’s external relations head Corinta Guerta; IRRI partnerships office head Michelle Weldon; and Heritha Nankole Muyoba. 

LOS BAÑOS, Philippines—Although corn is Namibia's primary food staple, the government is keen on expanding rice production to improve its food security. Research has shown that the crop can be successfully grown in Namibia's seasonal wetlands. But frequent droughts that occur in the semi-arid country pose a threat to its rice production.

A delegation from Namibia, headed by High Commissioner Anne Namakau Mutelo, visited, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on 12 January to learn about its high-impact research activities, particularly on drought.

"We've learned a lot," said Commissioner Mutelo. "We saw how different countries, nationalities have come together here to conserve rice, improve its production, and generally ensure global food security."

Rector Mutelo, chief executive officer of Namibia Biometric Systems, commended IRRI’s partnership-driven research. "This is the United Nations of rice," he noted.

Heritha Nankole Muyoba of RMZ Consulting, a private educational and business organization in Namibia that works with farmers, said what IRRI offers Namibian farmers are drought-tolerant and climate change-ready rice varieties.

Nakole also showed great interest in the International Rice Genebank. "We saw how all the rice varieties are being conserved and how the their database system is maintained,” she said. “If we start a genebank in Namibia we don't have to start from nothing.”

The Namibian visit also served as an opportunity to explore possible areas of collaboration with IRRI.

"We are planning to start with a memorandum of agreement that links the University of Namibia with your institution so we can train our MS and PhD students as well as build the capacity of our agricultural personnel," said Commissioner Mutelo.

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