The Research Center for Agricultural Information Technology, NARO (RCAIT/NARO) aims to promote 'smartization' in the field of agriculture and food industry, and to train human resources in artificial intelligence (AI) towards the realization of the government's initiative for a super-smart society, "Society 5.0", in the field of agriculture and food.
(1) To promote agricultural AI research by utilizing big data, the latest AI technologies, and linkage of proprietary-based agricultural data.
(2) To establish a research and management system aiming for long-term stable operation of agricultural data cooperation base.
(3) To develop ICT human resources with expertise in AI and solve various issues and challenges facing agriculture.
The center will tackle the area of use the AI technology in the smart food chain, a platform of "Society 5.0" in the field of agriculture and food, for the strategic tasks of each process from breeding to production, processing, distribution and consumption. External experts of AI research will educate research personnel from the research centers and institutes of NARO through on the job training (OJT) and resolve issues related to smart food chain. Upon acquiring the necessary skills, these researchers will be dispatched back to their respective posts to conduct AI research and promote AI technology. As a result, approximately 10% (200 people) of the researchers in the NARO are expected to hold high IT literacy. Also, in cooperation with public experimental stations and technical extension workers, the center aims to achieve a scenario wherein "all agricultural workers can utilize data by 2025".
Society 5.0 was proposed in the 5th Science and Technology Basic Plan, endorsed by a Cabinet Decision on January 22, 2016, as a future society that Japan should aspire to and defined as "a human-centered society that balances economic advancement with the resolution of social problems by a system that highly integrates cyberspace and physical space". It follows the hunting society (Society 1.0), agricultural society (Society 2.0), industrial society (Society 3.0), and information society (Society 4.0). In the field of agriculture, new values will be generated through AI analysis of big data consisting of diverse information, such as meteorological data, crop-growth data, market conditions, and food trends and needs. Eventually, these approaches can help increase food production and stabilize supply, solve the labor-shortage problem in agricultural regions, reduce food waste, and stimulate consumption. Reference: Cabinet Office Website.