Although rice is not the Namibia’s primary food staple, the government is keen on expanding rice production to improve its food security. Research has shown that the crop can be successfully grown in Namibia’s seasonal wetlands but frequent droughts that occur in the semi-arid country pose a threat to its rice production. To address this issue, a delegation from Namibia, headed by High Commissioner Anne Namakau Mutelo, visited, the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) on 12 January to learn about its high-impact research activities, particularly on drought. “We’ve learned a lot,” said Commissioner Mutelo. “We saw how different countries, nationalities have come together here to conserve rice, improve its production, and generally ensure global food security.” Rector Mutelo, chief executive officer of Namibia Biometric Systems, commended IRRI’s partnership-driven research. “This is the United Nations of rice,” he appreciated. “We are planning to start with a memorandum of agreement that links the University of Namibia with your institution so we can train our MS and PhD students as well as build the capacity of our agricultural personnel,” added Commissioner Mutelo.
Heritha Nankole Muyoba of RMZ Consulting, a private educational and business organization in Namibia that works with farmers, said what IRRI offers Namibian farmers are drought-tolerant and climate change-ready rice varieties. Nakole also showed great interest in the International Rice Genebank. “We saw how all the rice varieties are being conserved and their database system,” she said. “If we plan to start a Genebank in Namibia we don’t have to start from nothing.” The Namibian visit also served as an opportunity to explore possible areas of collaboration with IRRI.