Visitors gain local knowledge

WELCOME: Dr Gunnar Kirchhof with, from left, Sahar Abdalla (Sudan), Mabel Onwuka (Nigeria), Benjamin Makene (Tanzania), Imelda Kanzomba (Uganda) and Kayumba John (Rwanda). Photo: Barry Smith  050814BSC04

WELCOME: Dr Gunnar Kirchhof with, from left, Sahar Abdalla (Sudan), Mabel Onwuka (Nigeria), Benjamin Makene (Tanzania), Imelda Kanzomba (Uganda) and Kayumba John (Rwanda). Photo: Barry Smith 050814BSC04

THE expertise of local farmers is being shared with a group of African visitors to help improve food security in the world’s poorest continent.

The delegation is in Australia for five weeks to learn advanced soil and water management practices that can be employed in their home countries.

The 22 participants, drawn from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria and Sudan, include agronomists, engineers, irrigators and lecturers.

Tamworth Agricultural Institute has played host to the group this week as local experts, including Lew Hyson and Rob Banks, impart their knowledge.

Dr Gunnar Kirchhof, a senior research academic at the University of Queensland, has been involved in the program for the last three years.

He said that with parts of Africa sharing similar climate patterns and soil profiles as found in Australia, many of 

the strategies and techniques were transferable.

“The way that agriculture is practiced in Australia is directly applicable to the way it can be practiced in Africa,” he said.

“The main difference between agriculture in Australia and Africa is, in very simple terms, the scale of the operation.”

Nigerian lecturer Mabel Onwuka said the trip had already provided her with plenty of material to pass on to her students.

“I’m really getting a lot from the course,” she said. “The passion (Australia) has for agriculture is really encouraging.”

The visit is funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through its Australia Awards Fellowships program.

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