The Chinese Academy of Sciences has signed a new deal with the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali, in Rwanda, to conduct joint research on natural resources and the environment, the first of its kind in East Africa.
The study, to be conducted at the UNILAK research center, is expected to increase agricultural productivity in Rwanda through improved environmental conservation.
Chinese researchers will join their colleagues at UNILAK to conduct various studies into how Rwanda can protect the agricultural ecosystem against the effects of climate change. The researchers will also conduct studies on soil erosion and high-yield agriculture in different conditions and locations.
"The agreement for the joint study was our promise to UNILAK last year. We will continue to work hand-in-hand to make it a success. Our target is to make a contribution to fighting climate change," says Li Zhanbin, vice-chancellor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
|Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences survey a site with officials from the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali.(China Daily) |
Li Fadong, a researcher at the academy's Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, says both China and Rwanda will share experiences and expertise to be able to address the challenge with sustainable solutions.
He says research will focus on fighting climate change, protecting natural resources, improvements in modern agricultural technology, disaster risk reduction, geographic information systems and remote sensing, as well as an outreach program to the public.
"The research will provide information on which citizens will base their daily activities," says Jean Ngamije, vice-chancellor of UNILAK.
He says the idea is to come up with mechanisms that will help improve water and soil conservation and boost agricultural production.
"We will establish strategies that will help conserve the environment and at the same time increase productivity in the agriculture sector," he says.
Francois Nshimiyimana, a Kigali-based agronomist, says that soil degradation can largely be attributed to human factors; the partnership is therefore designed to help increase awareness.
"Soil degradation is poised to affect Rwanda's crop production if not addressed urgently," he says adding that farmers must understand the key role they play in conserving the environment and the need to embrace modern technologies.
A research project on soil and water conservation started in 2016 and is expected to conclude in 2020, with the results set to provide solutions that will combat soil degradation and enable highly productive and effective agriculture in Rwanda.
The joint research aims to improve production capacity and boost food security.
Negotiations for the research started in November last year during an international conference on sustainable environmental and natural resource management, attended by more than 100 representatives from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and China.
The conference coincided with the 26th general meeting of The World Academy of Sciences held in Rwanda.
Findings from the five-year research project are expected to provide scientific evidence, technology support and demonstration projects to improve livelihoods by building climate resilience and restoring and conserving key ecosystems in developing countries.
African scientists are keen to harness the research and technological expertise of Chinese academic institutions in tackling the challenges facing the continent. (China Daily Africa)