As part of a Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) month long government research project in Japan roughly 20 government officials from the United Republic of Tanzania came to Seika Town this week for a two day long agricultural study program. On the day of arrival the delegation was met by Seika Town Mayor Kaname Kimura, the director of the Industry Promotion Division, my colleague Chris and myself.
At first the Mayor introduced Seika Town and gave an explanation of the agricultural sector, society and town policy. Then the Mayor fielded questions from the delegates about various economic, social, and agricultural issues that both Seika and Tanzania share in common. Some examples were; how to deal with exporting agricultural products in a competitive world market, how to cope with the declining population of young people in the agricultural sector, and how to create new products and marketability of excess agricultural goods.
Chris and myself accompanied the delegation on a tour of Seika and some of the local farms and hot houses to assist with interpreting and explaining Seika Town. Although Kiswahili (Swahili) is the national language of Tanzania, English has become the official language for business and government so all of the Tanzanian representatives could speak perfect English. My colleague and I were along to help translate from Japanese into English. At every stop that we made the Tanzanian delegates had a gift from Tanzania for their hosts and left a warm and lively impression.
Before the delegation came I was doing a lot of research into Tanzania so that I could try to understand better what issues face the nation and why they are interested in learning about Japanese agricultural practices. From what I read Tanzania is a beautiful country with many natural blessings such as large wildlife preserves on the Serengeti, Mt. Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar island. However while Tanzania has many natural treasures it is faced with a struggling economy due in part to unpredictable climates for the agricultural industry which makes up nearly half of the GDP and employees roughly 80% of the national workforce. It seems like one of the main issues is how to properly irrigate the varied regions from the many lakes, rivers and water sources in the country so that the agricultural sector will not be at the mercy of irregular rainfall. As Japan has an extensive irrigation system I hope that the Tanzanians were able to get some good ideas to take home.
It was a true pleasure and an honor for me to be able to meet all of the delegates and to do my best to help them while they were here in Seika. I sincerely hope that their time here in Japan was informative and fruitful and that they will be able to take some ideas back to Tanzania with them to help improve the country. Yet while they came here to study from Japan I know that they will also leave their mark on this country with their friendliness and generosity.