Japan at the forefront of assistance to Africa

For this edition of Global Japan we visit Senegal. Japanese aid to Africa dates back to the 1950s, and has intensified since the establishment of TICAD, 24 years ago. The Tokyo International Conference on African Development is aimed at improving development on the continent.

The model of Japanese cooperation in Africa is very important. It is almost unique in the world, focusing on shared technology, teaching, and support – the goal is to deliver not just performance but also autonomy in the long term.

A good example is the plan to improve productivity of rice. The project is being implemented under the guidance of JICA – the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

In the Podor district 600 farmers work on 700 hectares. With the help of Japanese experts, they have completely rehabilitated the irrigation works, and refined their techniques of cultivation to make it more efficient.

“We have been trained and we’re now able to do the repairs on the canals ourselves,” explains Mamadou Oumar Dia, President of Diatar 2 Farmers’ Organisation. “We produce much more rice, we can do two crops a year, which was very complicated before the intervention of the Japanese. “

Amadou Tidiane Mbaye, an agicultural engineer, is also impressed with the progress:

“Irrigation used to take 15 days for the 77 plots; now it takes seven days. Diesel consumption has been reduced by 30 percent, which has lowered irrigation costs and improved the income for producers. “

According to Takashi Hotta, an agricultural expert for JICA, yields have risen from four to seven tonnes of rice per hectare, and producers’ incomes have increased by an average of 20 percent. But JICA says the gains also have to be sustainable:

“The idea is to be able to transmit techniques for the long term. We’re not talking about very complicated techniques, but something more simple, adapted to their skills, and that can last.”

The philosophy of Japanese cooperation in Africa is to share with the local population, and to meet the specific needs of each region.

“It’s a two-way process that always involves dialogue,” says JICA Senegal Field Operations…

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