Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center, NARO

Message from Director

Mitsunori KURIHARAThe 2016 series of earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture including two consecutive and strong shaking of magnitude 7 on April 14 and 16 brought severe damage to many areas in the Kyushu region. This unprecedented disaster caused an estimated total damage of 3.8 trillion yen in Kumamoto alone, including the collapse of valuable cultural treasures such as the Kumamoto Castle and Aso Shrine. On behalf of Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center(KARC), I would like to express my condolences and prayers for the souls of those who lost their lives, my sympathy to thousands of people who were injured or lost their homes, and everyone who suffered over the past year.

In the entire Kyushu region, the damage to agriculture, forestry and fishery industry is estimated to be 166 billion yen. Kumamoto Prefecture which has the sixth highest agricultural production value nationwide sustained more than 100 billion yen in damages. There was a strong concern for resuming many agricultural activities as soon as possible since there was a wide range of damage in agriculture related facilities such as reservoirs and irrigation canals necessary for rice planting, cracking and liquefaction of rice field paddies, damage in facilities for common use such as fruit sorting site and elevators, drop in melon and tomato production from affected agricultural lands and facilities, withering of strawberries and watermelons, damage in terms of death and culling of livestock and disposal of raw milk from affected livestock. In response to these situations, KARC is providing technical information in cooperation with all NARO institutes and research centers, for recovery along with an emergency investigation aimed at early resumption in farming. In cooperation with Kumamoto Prefecture, Institute for Rural Engineering (NIRE), and Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES), we are currently performing extensive evaluation of the infrastructure of agricultural lands and the impact on soil and groundwater by advanced monitoring method using drone, analyzing the effect on the growth of rice, soybean, forage, oranges and other crops, and disseminating the results of such efforts to the farmers in affected areas. Likewise, we will continue to provide the support in the creative reconstruction of agriculture in Kumamoto in the future. In addition, we will continue to cooperate with the Faculty of Agriculture at Tokai University which was also affected by the disaster.

The Kyushu and Okinawa region is suitable for agricultural production because of its warm temperature, abundant sunshine, and adequate rainfall. Therefore, agricultural and livestock production is thriving with agricultural output of approximately 1.8 trillion yen or 20% of nationwide production, corresponding to 10% of rice, wheat, soybean and dairy cattle production, 30% of green peppers, oranges, beef cattle, and pig production, 40% of sweet potatoes, unrefined tea, broiler production, and 100% of sugarcane production. We are working round the clock to facilitate the necessary technological development that supports agricultural production from the technological aspect. In particular, we have a track record in supporting the establishment of production areas with excellent agricultural products, the development of sixth industrialization through new product development, and the cultivation of core varieties of various crops.

Two rice cultivars developed by KARC, namely, "Nikomaru" with strong resistance to global warming and produced by Mr. Koga Masamitsu from Kikuchi City, and "Pikakamaru" produced by Mr. Nakayama Hokuto from Aso City were selected as the "The World's Best Rice (TM)" in 2015 and 2016, respectively. In addition to representative Kyushu wheat cultivars such as "Shiroganekomugi" and "Chikugoizumi", bread wheat cultivars suitable for warm region such as "Nishinokaori" and "Minaminokaori" are also cultivated. The cultivar "Minaminokaori" is the parent cultivar of " Chikushi-W2" cultivar used for Fukuoka's "Raamugi" and "Nagasaki W2" cultivar used for Nagasaki's "Nagasakichanmugi". The barley cultivar "Nishinohoshi" is popular for making high quality shochu (distilled spiruts). The soybean cultivar "Fukuyutaka" is one of the main cultivar suitable for tofu processing, and large grain black soybean "Kurodamaru" is the first cultivar suitable for cultivation in the warm region. The sweet potato cultivar "Koganesengan" is now mainly used as raw material for most of sweet potato shochu and other premium products. In addition, the purple sweet potato cultivar "Murasakimasari" gives new taste for shochu, "Beniharuka" cultivar is getting popular nationwide as good tasting baked sweet potato. KARC is also greatly involved in developing strawberry varieties included in top ten nationwide strawberries. The main cultivars of sugarcane are cultivated in Kagoshima and Okinawa Prefectures. We are working on the development of technology for cultivating leading varieties well adapted to the local communities while meeting the needs of the local people. Mitsunori KURIHARA

For region-based technology development, it is essential to establish collaboration with regional producers, local residents, universities, experimental research stations, administrative and extension organizations. In order to promote the regional network and to grasp the needs of the region in technology development, we conducted 44 study group and evaluation meetings last year on research areas ranging from paddy field work, upland farming, livestock production, fruit trees, vegetables, flowers, and pests etc. We are promoting technological development while exchanging ideas with many stakeholders. Currently, we have established 38 research collaborations and strengthened further collaborations by participating in joint projects of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) with 33 companies. In addition, we have ongoing field studies in 80 locations across 51 towns and villages of 8 prefectures in cooperation with agricultural producers in the Kyushu Okinawa region. We will continue to strengthen our efforts in cooperation with the local community in the future, hence I look forward for your continuous support and cooperation.

Mitsunori KURIHARA, PhD
Director General
Kyushu Okinawa Agricultural Research Center, NARO

Corporate Number 7050005005207