This week I went over to Luapula Province to participate in a rice workshop. This workshop was put on in conjuction with JICA, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency. Among other things, JICA promotes rice growing, so is delighted to come out and demonstrate rice techniques to Peace Corps volunteers and their Zambian counterparts. Travelling to Luapula was fun and it was my first time in the province. It looks a lot like Northern Province, but it is still cool to be able to look out across a river and see the DRC. The DRC looked a lot like Zambia. My part of the workshop was to teach techniques for integrating rice and fish. Unfortunately, my knowledg was all theoretical, but people seemed to enjoy it and I had done a good chunk of reading on the subject. Real-life examples are scarce because it is easier and usually more efficient to grow rice and fish seperately, but there are some advantages to growing them together. I am personally motivated to go try a test plot to see if I can make it work. The JICA rice demonstration was pretty interesting and it seems fairly simple to grow rice. JICA recommends the use of NERICA rice, which stands for “New Rice for Africa.” It is a hybrid of Asian varieties, which produce large yields, and African varieties, which are acclimated to the climate and diseases of Africa. Together, they produce a hardy rice suited for growing in areas where the land isn’t constantly inundated. In addition to rice, we learned about a variety of other topics, such as making charcoal from corn husks. Since maize is such a large crop, there are a large number of husks come harvest season. These are usually wasted, but can be converted into charcoal relatively. This requires a longer process than using charcoal made from wood (the corn husks are less dense than wood, and therefore need to be pounded and shaped into briquets to match the characteristics of wood charcoal), but are more environmentally friendly because they don’t require chopping down trees. Overall it was a really great workshop and I learned a lot along with the counterparts and other volunteers. I’m excited to get back up to Luapula to see more of the sights and learn more about rice.