Three students from Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University have just returned from Yangling, China, where they represented South Africa at a 20-day seminar on “agricultural environment-controlling technologies of arid areas for developing countries”.
Their visit has opened up the way for collaboration between NMMU’s Agricultural Management Department and the Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University in Yangling.
Meanwhile, another agricultural student is also on her way to China: MTech Agricultural Management student Robyn Nicolay is leaving next week to attend a rural development course in Beijing.
The students who attended the Yangling seminar – Agricultural Management PhD student and Animal Production lecturer Potego Phakwago, BA Development Studies Honours student and Agricultural Management BTech graduate Precious Yeki and Agricultural Management BTech student and tutor Vuyolwethu Khanya – were selected to attend by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
They formed part of a 22-person delegation from 12 developing countries, which also included government ministers and other officials from their respective departments of agriculture.
At the seminar, the students, together with the other participants, discussed technologies and funding and had to present reports, where they applied this information to their own local circumstances.
Phakwago received an “excellent participant award” for his leadership, and for going the extra mile to assist with translations into English, and volunteering for extra tasks on the programme.
The PhD student, who is researching dairy farming management for smallholder farmers, discussed his research with academics from Northwest Agriculture and Forestry University at the seminar.
“The trip has contributed a lot to my PhD research and has opened doors for me and NMMU’s agriculture department, for collaboration with China and to put us on the map,” he said. He is looking forward to returning to China for further research.
The students also had time to visit cultural attractions in China, including the Terracotta Warriors, which are sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. They also visited the Forbidden City in Beijing (once the Chinese imperial palace) and the Great Wall of China.
“It was just a great experience,” Phakwago said.
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