The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO) has been consolidated as the core institution in Japan for conducting R&D on agriculture and food with the integration of the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIEAS), and the National Center for Seeds and Seedlings (NCCS) from April 1, 2016, which also coincides with the commencement of its 4th five-year mid-term plan. The new NARO aims to promote R&D on agriculture, food and the environment from the global viewpoint and to bring back the results of such efforts to society, securing the nation's supply of high-quality and safe foods, reinforcement of industrial competitive power, preservation of the environment, and creation of new values, thereby contributing to the sustainable development of rural areas and the society as a whole. As a national research organization, the integration also enables us to pursue research areas ranging from the fundamental, applied and dissemination aspects, with the drafting of a framework, organization and system in order to maximize our research achievements. To fulfill this mission, our 4th five-year mid-term plan has four pillars: (1) Strengthening the capability of production and farm management capability of agricultural production; (2) Development of new cultivars and agricultural products towards realization of a strong agriculture and creation of innovative industries; (3) Producing high-quality and healthy food and ensuring the safety and reliability of agricultural products; and (4) Resolution of environmental issues and sustainable use of local resources.
We aim to fully demonstrate our potential as an organization that responds appropriately and timely to issues confronting food, agriculture and the rural areas, including our country's commitment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Five regional research centers (Hokkaido, Tohoku, Central Region, Western Region, Kyushu-Okinawa) serve as the base of nationwide agricultural research and the frontline in bringing the technology developed by NARO to society. Research initiatives in various areas of agriculture are embodied in seven institutes to promote innovations in each field and to support the regional research centers. The three research institutes, namely, the Institute of Crop Science, Institute of Agricultural Machinery, and Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, are established to integrate fundamental research into current innovations such as crop breeding and genomics, field farming and ICT technologies, and environmental changes and countermeasure strategies, respectively. The Center for Seeds and Seedlings facilitates the distribution of seeds and seedlings developed by NARO as well as the registration and protection of plant cultivars in Japan. In addition, the Bio-oriented Technology Research Advancement Institution is in-charge of promoting external research projects through financial assistance from various agencies.
We believe that NARO can achieve the goal of maximizing the full potential of its research achievements through the enthusiasm of its research staff and various collaborations. Traditionally, people involved in the development and dissemination of agricultural technology have a great passion for agriculture, regardless of affiliation in the government, industry or academia because they believe that food and agriculture are the foundations that support life and the environment. Improving the quality of crops and increasing the yield while reducing the production cost coupled with the enthusiasm of the staff involved in various initiatives are the main factors that will contribute in elevating Japan's agricultural products to the world's top class level. It is, therefore, necessary to create an organization that can maximize the full potential and enthusiasm of its staff. As Japan's largest agriculture and food R&D institution, we will further promote cooperation with our internal or external networks and international organizations such as the Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) as well as other foreign research organizations in pursuing cutting-edge and innovative research. And above everything else, we will advance our research activities and establish a highly creative organization that promotes gender equality and a harmonious working environment with a strong sense of ethics as we strive to make valuable contributions to society.
Tokio IMBE, PhD