Blog‎ > ‎

ザンビアへ【To Zambia】

posted Apr 25, 2015, 5:18 AM by Yoshitaka Uchida Hokudai

   I have been to Zambia. Africa is one of the places that I always love to visit and do some scientific works. I love Africa not only because Africa has been markedly developing in recent years but also because of its beautiful nature and people. I also love the fact that everything is not so organized, unlike my country. The theme of this visit was "rice production". I inspected different areas in Zambia, trying to find out the way to establish rice fields, which is not easy. 
     Many may imagine that the climate is too hot and dry for rice crops here in Zambia but it is actually the opposite. Rice crops are often damaged due to the cold weather. The minimum temperature in this country can go down to 10 degree C, in July. Drought is definitely an issue here but from Nov to Mar, normally more than 200 mm of rainfall is observed, per month. Thus this rainy season is the busy agricultural season as well. 
     I wanted to give some good advises using my knowledge and skills as a nutrient cycle specialist (I often call myself a environmental biogeochemist but I basically look at all the nutrients and their balances within soils) but it was very hard. I noticed that soils here do not normally have "black" colour with many earthworms, as we often see in Japanese soils. Using special terminologies, soils here have little organic matter and microbial activity is very low, in general. Agricultural activities on these soils can be very tough. Crops may require a lot of fertilizers and the outbreak of microbial diseases may be common because there is no competition among microbes. 
     I know that historically, Japanese rice farmers have worked hard to produce good soils and I believe that some of their skills may be useful in Zambia.