Tour provides ag knowledge

A group of 11 people from Kenya and Tanzania recently toured central west farms for an intensive learning experience that ultimately aims to improve food security in East Africa. The fellowship is focused on revolutionizing African traditional agriculture systems, and how to produce more from less.

On Saturday, February 17 the fellowship visited Orange’s Philip Shaw Winery and Vineyard before travelling to the Wellington Caves and Taronga Western Plains Zoo the following day. The tour also saw them visit Dubbo’ Little Big Dairy Co., Auscott Warren and Haddon Rig Merino Stud. The fellowship then toured Narromine’s Enza Zaden before finishing their trip of the central west back at Orange’s Bite Riot.

While on tour the fellows from partner institutions Egerton University, South Eastern Kenya University, Sokoine University of Agriculture and Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology were introduced to the latest research and practices in using remote sensing and geospatial analysis and applying these to land suitability analysis, particularly for alternative uses.

Professor Paul Kimurto, from Kenya’s Egerton University said it had been a very interesting visit to Australian farms to see how farmers in Australia apply new technology in making silage, in using technology to milk animals and using new technology through breeding livestock.

“What the farmers are telling us is that we need to maintain the cow, produce sufficient feed, target high quality products,” he said.

They also investigated the utilisation of traditional and modern technologies for farm system modelling to optimise crop and pasture yields and sustainability, and will consider how best to work with their farming stakeholders.

Dr Tina Machuve from Tanzania’s Nelson Mandela Institute said she was amazed the way Australian farmers value soil and how they keep records of their farms.

“They know all that information first hand,” she said.

Sesquicentennial Associate Professor in Rural Spatial Information Systems, Inakwu Odeh, was responsible for building the connection between Africa and Australia through the fellowship program.

Odeh sadly passed away early February and his African proteges did not have the privilege of meeting and working with him. The University of Sydney’s Associate Professor Daniel Tan said Odeh was the driving force behind enabling the Australia Awards Fellowship supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“He had great vision and foresight in connecting Australia and Africa in a practical, high calibre, reciprocal learning environment,” he said.

“This training is crucial for these future agricultural leaders in boosting development prospects for their home country.”

Australia Awards Fellowships target current and future leaders and mid-career professionals who will be in a position to advance priority foreign affairs and development issues on their return home.

Fellowship activities are aimed at providing high-quality training, exchange of expertise, skills and knowledge, and opportunities to enhance networks on issues of shared interest.

This year’s aims cover Australian aid objectives – promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability.

“Africa’s agricultural productivity growth has been stagnant for many decades, in spite of huge investments in research and development,” Mr Tan said.

“The main purpose of this program is therefore focused on how to produce more with less through improved production systems and innovative technological adoption to meet the development priorities of enhancing food security, promoting growth and improving livelihoods in Tanzania and Kenya.”