Ogongo expects a bumper rice harvest

27 June 2018 | Agriculture

The University of Namibia's (Unam) Ogongo Campus in the Omusati Region plans to host its annual rice harvest festival tomorrow.

The festival is aimed at familiarising local farmers with rice production techniques and new products.

The Unam Ogongo Campus has introduced a mixed-crop system of drought-resilient mahangu and flood-resilient rice, which it says could help small-scale farmers keep their production constant regardless of weather conditions.

The project is conducted by the Namibia-Japan Rice Mahangu Project team and funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). It has been running since 2012.

Campus assistant pro-vice-chancellor, Christopher Mberema, told Ewi lyaNooli that the campus wants to promote rice cultivation among the northern communities.

The seasonal wetlands (oshanas) of north-central Namibia and the riverine floodplains of the north-eastern regions are ideal for rice cultivation.

“Although rice is generally cultivated in water, some cultivars can thrive under limited soil water conditions, as has been tested and verified locally at Ogongo Campus. Besides that, the project has developed new food products of rice and mahangu blends,” Mberema said.

“Therefore, participants in this year's festival will not only learn how to cultivate and process rice, but they will also be introduced to a range of new food products such as olithima, which is a porridge made with a rice-and-mahangu flour mixture, and rice and mahangu cookies,” Mberema said.

He said the university believes that the project will encourage local rice production and support new regional development initiatives of introducing urban agriculture to contribute to food security and employment.

The campus expects a bumper harvest this season, estimated at 10 000kg of paddy rice from a 2.5-hectare field.

This product was introduced by Professor Morio Iijima from Kinki University in Japan, who is the team leader of the Namibia-Japan Rice and Mahangu Project that also gave birth to the Kalimbeza rice project in the Zambezi Region.

Equipment such as a water pump, greenhouse, incubator and computer worth more than N$2.2 million were donated by the Japanese government through these agencies.

Various skills were also transferred to Namibian academics, ministry of agriculture officials and small-scale farmers in the northern and central regions.

The campus is now running the project on its own, as the agreement between the Namibian and Japanese governments ended on 27 February 2017.

ILENI NANDJATO

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