NARO aiming to make valuable contributions to society
The economic and social environment surrounding agriculture is currently undergoing major changes. There is an increasing concern that the inevitable shrinkage of the domestic market and deterioration of rural areas due to Japan's rapidly declining and aging population will have a great impact on agriculture and food production. On the other hand, the projected 1.3 fold increase in world population from the current 7.6 billion to 9.8 billion in 2050 is expected to drive up the global food demand and expansion of overseas market opening big business opportunities that will strategically increase exports.
Furthermore, a major turning point in human history is taking place on the technological front as a consequence of the advancement in information and communication technology (ICT) and digitalization, the rapid movement of people, goods, money, information and culture across national boundaries, and the structural transformation in the economy.
Roles of NARO
In order to achieve the goal of converting agriculture into a sustainable industry, it is essential that farm owners be able to carry out farming activities based on their own management decisions and to make sufficient profits in the process. The base of a sustainable business in agriculture is "low-cost production of high-quality products that satisfy the consumers and selling at a higher price". Science and technology innovations are essential in developing products that meet the demands of consumers, and countermeasures to overcome the challenges in facing agriculture such as labor shortage, aging of farmers, and cost reduction in expanding productivity.
In this scenario, the major role of NARO is to create R&D innovations that will eventually transform agriculture into a robust industry. NARO is pursuing research initiatives to support agriculture as a sustainable industry towards the goal of "providing a stable supply of safe, reliable and high-quality agricultural and food products" and "contributing in the government's economic growth policy of achieving a GDP target of 600 trillion yen through strong industrialization of agriculture and increased share of agricultural products in the global market".
High-priority research areas
We prioritize on 6 research areas in agriculture and food production in conjunction with the Council for Science Technology and Innovation's "5th Science and Technology Basic Plan" towards the realization of a super smart society (Society 5.0). These research areas are: (1) creation of a data-driven innovative smart agriculture, (2) development of a smart breeding system and cooperate with the private sector in breeding new cultivars, (3) construction of a smart food value chain including exports, (4) utilization of biological function to create new industries and enhance health care through food, (5) development of essential agricultural knowledge and technologies (environmental data on gene bank, soil etc.), and (6) advancement of fundamental technologies (artificial intelligence, data linkage, robotics etc.).
Strengthening research and development capabilities
We will further enhance efforts to strengthen our R&D capabilities. Towards this goal, we will optimize the allocation of research funding and human resources to basic research, practical applications, and studies bridging basic and applied sciences; strengthen organizational framework and cross-border collaborative activities towards industrialization of agriculture and enhancement of global competitiveness; strengthen intellectual property rights and international standardization; promote public relations to increase awareness of NARO and its researchers as a brand; and strengthen our human resources by securing and providing training to diverse human resources, in order to accelerate the implementation of our research achievements into society.
Goal of NARO
In pursuing these activities, the NARO staff shall strive and make every effort to establish a research institution that
- can be relied in the development of the agricultural industry;
- can be recognized for technology, knowledge and wisdom;
- enhances active cooperation with related organizations;
- nurtures diversity and inclusion in human resources;
- expands challenging and motivating minds.
Kazuo KYUMA, PhD