SIRDC hosts KAFACI Planning Meeting for Food Crop Research and Development

A Network for Food Crop Research and Development, under the Korea-Africa Food and Agriculture Cooperation Initiative (KAFACI) was formed, at a planning Meeting for Food Crop Programme held in Harare from the 25th to the 27th of February 2014. The meeting which was opened by the Chief Executive Officer of the Scientific and Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), Dr. Robson Mafoti, and attended by 13 participants from Africa and one South Korean delegate.

Dr. Leonard Madzingaidzo, the Executive Director -Technical of SIRDC, was elected the inaugural chairperson of the Network. Also appointed as secretaries were Cote dӉvoireӳ Dr. Louise Akanvou of that countryӳ Centre of National Agronomic Research (CNRA) and Professor Elasha Elasha of the Sudanӳ Agricultural Research Corporation (ARC). The network will provide a forum for the exchange of invaluable knowledge and experiences, and to draw out collaborative activities concerning Africaӳ current food crop production and security challenges.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Mafoti noted that the Food Crop Program aligns with the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Social and Economic Transformationӳ (ZimAsset), Food and Nutrition Security cluster, and would go a long way in helping Zimbabwe in its food production as it works towards the restoration of its former bread basket status. Under the KAFACI platform, Zimbabwe through SIRDC is implementing two major projects; one on the Development and Application of an Integrated Mechanisation System for Soyabean Cultivation and the other on Agricultural extension.

The project on mechanization will result in reverse engineering and local manufacture of motorised hand held planting, harvesting and processing equipment for soyabean production by small scale farmers in Zimbabwe, while the extension one aims at creating robust village concept that will see an increase in rural development.

The Korean Ambassador to Zimbabwe Lew Kwang-chul, who also made remarks during the opening Ceremony, recounted South Korea's unique development experience through which it learnt immeasurable lessons that can assist in the development of partner countries by sharing its knowledge and experience accumulated throughout this process.

Complementing the Ambassador's words, Dr. Sangjong Lim, Director General of the Rural Development Administration of Korea explained how his country overcame chronic food shortages in the 1970s by cooperating with international organizations to develop high-yielding rice varieties and disseminating technologies to rural communities, which led to self-sufficiency in food. He added that, ԗe hope to share this experience and know-how with the member countries through this network.՜r

It was acknowledged that African countries represented faced different food challenges. However, delegates share the hope that the forum would serve as a platform for finding common areas for collaborative work in the future. Expected outcomes of the meeting include the formulation of a detailed work-plan which will extend from 2014-2017.

KAFACI is an 18 member intergovernmental and multi-lateral cooperation body inaugurated in July 2010. Its membership comprises South Korea and 17 African countries that include Angola, Cameroon, Comoros, Cote dӉvoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Sudan, Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The objectives of KAFACI include improving food production, achieving sustainable agriculture and enhancing extension services in African member countries by sharing knowledge and information on agricultural technologies.

Since its inception in July 2010, KAFACI has conducted various capacity building on the job trainings and workshops and is implementing a number of cooperation projects in the African member states. The projects address country specific agricultural problems, agricultural challenges facing regional countries as well as common agricultural issues affecting the whole continent.

The next phase of KAFACI spanning the years 2014 to 2017 will focus on bilateral cooperation in five programme areas starting with the Food Crop programme, which is the purpose of this planning meeting. Other projects to be implemented in the second phase include livestock, horticulture, agricultural extension and basic agricultural science.

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Tarisayi Zvoma
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