In a visit to Kafr al-Sheikh in the northwestern district of the Nile Delta, known as the “capital” of rice cultivation in Egypt, Japanese ambassador Oka Hiroshi and his wife opened the JICA Laboratory at the Rice Research and Training Centre (RRTC) in Kafr al-Sheikh. JICA stands for the Japan International Cooperation Agency.
Attending were Kato Ken, Chief Representative of JICA Egypt Office; and Alaa Khalil, Director General of the Field Crops Research Institute on behalf of Egypt’s Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation; along with high ranking Egyptian and Japanese officials whose presence underscored the significance of the new laboratory and the strong bonds of collaboration between the two countries.
The cultivation of Japanese rice in Egypt began in 1917, and has ever since flourished and developed through Egyptian Japanese cooperation. The RRTC has painstakingly worked to develop new hardier strains of the crop, cultivated with reduced water quantities.
The new laboratory will act not only as a research and training facility for Egyptians, but also for African nations that have regularly sent representatives to train at RRTC. Some 600 African trainees went back home to apply the expertise they had gained in Kafr al-Sheikh, raising rice production almost five-fold in their home countries.
On their website, the Embassy of Japan in Cairo posted:
“We are thrilled to announce a momentous occasion – the inauguration of the JICA Laboratory at the Rice Research and Training Centre (RRTC) in Kafr al-Sheikh. This state-of-the-art laboratory, equipped with cutting-edge scientific instruments generously provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), represents a significant leap forward in our mission to advance agricultural research and training not only in Egypt but across the African and Middle Eastern regions.
“The JICA Laboratory is set to play a pivotal role in supporting RRTC’s research activities and is an integral part of the Third Country Training Program (TCTP) on Rice Cultivation Techniques. This programme has been instrumental in expanding Egypt’s expertise in rice cultivation and promoting the importance of rice for the economies of African countries. It equips training participants with vital skills to address common challenges faced by rice cultivators in Africa.
“What’s even more exciting is the collaboration with the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD), which brings Japanese and international experts to share their knowledge with African training participants. This synergy not only enhances research but also fosters international cooperation and knowledge exchange.
“But the impact of the JICA Laboratory reaches beyond research and training. It holds the promise of contributing to two critical global challenges: food security and climate change adaptation. By improving rice cultivation techniques, we are bolstering food security for millions of people across Africa. Additionally, these innovations play a pivotal role in building resilience against the impacts of climate change, ensuring a sustainable future.
“As we inaugurate this groundbreaking facility, we want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Egyptian government, the Rice Research and Training Centre, and all our partners who have made this milestone possible.
Together, we are cultivating progress, inspiring innovation, and driving change that will leave a lasting impact on generations to come.”
19 September 2023