Africa urgently needs to invest in modern agricultural practices for increased food productivity in order to feed its growing population. The continent should equally modernise its transport infrastructure including rural access, to facilitate movement of food from source areas. This was reiterated by two Japanese researchers during a seminar at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology on Thursday March 24, 2016.
Prof. Hiroshi Koaze, a professor of agriculture from Obihiro University of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine, Japan said the continent needs to move in tandem with the prevailing challenges like climate change. New methods to produce, store and distribute food like roots and tubers which have shown greater resilience and adaptability could benefit the continent.
Prof. Koaze also challenged African academics and researchers to engage in multidisciplinary research undertakings aimed at addressing various agricultural value chains. He added that the continent will only benefit from the population dividend if people can access adequate and quality food.
Addressing the seminar Prof. Makoto Kimura from Kyoto University, Japan spoke on the need to enhance rural access by modernising feeder roads. His interest in fostering rural accessibility springs from 1980s when as a JICA volunteer to JKUAT, he saw first-hand how farmers would struggle to take their produce to the market.
He gave an example of a technology in which gunny bags are filled with soil, firmed up and used as sub-base as an alternative that could be deployed to make African rural roads passable. The technology, he added had been piloted in many parts of the world including Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia with sustainable outcome.
Prof. Kimura said apart from improving usability of the rural roads, the low cost technology could be harnessed to provide income generating activities for the African youth.
The two professors addressed staff and students of both JKUAT and Pan African University of Basic Sciences, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI) from various academic and research disciplines.
Vice Chancellor, Prof. Mabel Imbuga thanked the two researchers for identifying what she characterized as solutions of consequence that could be harnessed to spur socio-economic growth and development not only in Kenya, but also in Africa.
The Seminar was organized under the auspices of the AFRICA-ai-JAPAN Project which seeks to facilitate African Innovation in which local knowledge and wisdom is harnessed to provide sustainable solutions to the challenges facing the continent.