On April 1, 2016, four institutes such as National Agriculture and Food Research Organization (NARO), National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (NIAS), National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES), and National Center for Seeds and Seedlings (NCSS) have been integrated into new NARO. As the frontline of NARO, the Hokkaido Agricultural Research Center (HARC) is expanding the research activities by the collaboration with NARO institutes and research centers, or different research fields, aiming to achieve the R&D outcome which is directly linked to the demands of the production site in Hokkaido region. Further, strengthen cooperation with research institutes and universities of the Hokkaido region and acts as the mediator of the technology and development result, aiming for the rapid implementation and maximization of R&D achievements.
The acreage of cultivated land in Hokkaido accounts for about one quarter of the national total, and it is Japan's largest food production base. The production of Hokkaido occupy the much part of domestic production of agricultural and livestock products; e.g. 100% of sugar beet, adzuki beans 94%, potato 80%, wheat 65%, raw milk 50%, buckwheat 45% etc. (FY2013). The amount of production of many agricultural products is number one in Japan. The gross production of agriculture in Hokkaido remains stable at about 1 trillion yen since 1984. Large scale management by taking advantage of land resources is a feature of Hokkaido agriculture , i.e. 70% are full-time farmers and farm management scale per unit is 23.4 ha (2014), which is 14.6 times that of average prefectures.
However, the problems of Japan's farming such as serious lack of farmers due to aging and population decline occurs in Hokkaido also. While approaching the transition phase due to large structural change, the technology which is compatible with the further scaling up and improvement of profitability is required by the production site. Needs are anticipated such as the effective crop rotation system, large-scale farm management system, work supporting technology based on ICT (Information communication technology) for new entrants and unskilled workers, introduction of highly profitable agricultural & livestock products and stable production technology etc. Hence in order to meet these requirements, intensive R&D is initiated at Hokkaido Agricultural Research Center.
In the vast Hokkaido, distinctive agriculture has been conducted corresponding to the location and weather based on the region, e.g. large-scale dry field farming of Tokachi-Okhotsk and dairy of Konsen, large sub-irrigated paddy of Sorachi etc. HARC initiated the development of technologies anticipating the changes of each farming system in region, and creating package of innovative production system which mobilizes advanced technology. Aiming for the rapid implementation of the production site, cooperative R&D with dissemination and production is performed. Supporting and enhancing the Japan's food production base can be achieved by the industrial enlargement of regional agriculture. HARC, the regional agricultural research center of NARO believed that is the top priority role must accomplish.
We are looking forward for your continuous support and collaboration. Thank you very much.
Masumi KATSUTA, PhD
Hokkaido Agricultural Research Center, NARO