In an exciting development for agricultural collaboration, three professors from the Shanghai Agrobiological Gene Centre (SAGC) embarked on a visit to Botswana.
The delegation – comprising esteemed researchers Prof. Liu Zaochang, Prof. Mei Hanwei, and Prof. Zhou Sheng – aimed to foster academic exchanges and enhance cooperation with Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN).
During their visit, the professors from SAGC had the opportunity to meet with BUAN’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Mosepele Mosepele. Representatives from African Agriculture (AA), Mr Miles Nan, and Prof. Liu Zaochang, who advocated Botswana’s WDR (Water Deficit Rice) project, introduced the Shanghai delegation and provided an update on the ongoing cooperation with BUAN. Vice Chancellor Mosepele warmly welcomed the delegation, expressing his appreciation for the collaboration between AA, BUAN and SAGC, emphasising its significance for Botswana’s agricultural production, particularly in crop planting.
Acknowledging the current food challenges faced by Botswana, Vice Chancellor Mosepele highlighted the need for innovative agriculture and diversification of crops to ensure food security in the country. He expressed confidence in the future cooperation between BUAN, SAGC and AA.
The visit also included the “Botswana WDR Rice Seminar” where Prof. Liu Zaochang from SAGC delivered a comprehensive presentation on breeding and cultural practices of low carbon emissions and water-saving rice for Africa. Prof. Liu’s expertise shed light on sustainable rice production techniques. Additionally, Prof. U. Batlang and Dr. T. S. Moroke from BUAN provided valuable insights during the seminar. Prof. Batlang offered preliminary rice research findings at Sebele, Botswana while Dr. Moroke provided an overview of the AA/BUAN rice project, analysing its technical and scientific aspects.
The seminar facilitated interactive discussions among attending professors, experts, officials from the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture, representatives from the National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI), and other relevant departments. Prof. O.R. Madibela, in his welcome remarks, expressed enthusiasm for the seminar and its potential impact on rice cultivation in Botswana.
The discussions encompassed a wide range of topics, including rice planting techniques, environmental impact mitigation, and strategies to enhance food security in Botswana. Prof. Liu Zaochang’s presentation on breeding and cultural practices of low carbon emissions and water-saving rice for Africa garnered significant attention and sparked further conversations among the participants.
Furthermore, the delegation, along with BUAN professors and seminar participants, visited the rice experimental field to gain firsthand insights into ongoing research and developments. As part of the visit, Winnie Nchoko and Martin De Bruin, experts in rice soil fertility, conducted investigations and shared their findings with the group, focusing on the specific soil requirements for successful rice cultivation in Botswana. Closing the event, Mr. Miles Nan, representative from African Agriculture, expressed his passion and dedication to the rice and agricultural development in Botswana. He emphasised the importance of collective efforts and government support to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and reduce reliance on imports.
Mr. Nan acknowledged the critical role of government support in realizing the project’s potential impact on people’s lives. He urged the government, including the Office of the President, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Entrepreneurship, and the Ministry of Youth, to wholeheartedly support the project, underscoring the commitment of the African Agricultural Company to address Botswana’s food security challenges through innovative agricultural solutions.
The visit by the SAGC professors marked a significant step forward in strengthening academic ties between China and Botswana. The exchange of knowledge and expertise, combined with the valuable contributions of Prof. Batlang, Dr. Moroke, Prof. Madibela, and other participants, will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of rice research and bolster Botswana’s efforts in achieving sustainable food production and security.