Tohoku Agricultural Research Center, NARO


It is a great pleasure to give a few remarks with my appointment as Director General of the Tohoku Agricultural Research Center on April 1, 2017.

It has been a year since the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences, National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences, and National Center for Seeds and Seedlings were integrated into a single research organization, and embarked on the 4th Mid-term Plan (FY2016-2020). The new NARO prioritizes on R&D that promptly tackles problems in the production sites with the regional agricultural research centers as the front line for implementing such mission. To facilitate the hub function, various initiatives aim to promote active cooperation with local research and extension organizations and producers, identify the needs of each region, respond to issues faced by the regional agriculture, and carry out on-site verification tests for the transfer of results etc., for rapid dissemination and practical application of developed technologies.

To achieve these objectives, the Tohoku Agricultural Research Center is promoting three main research programs, namely, (1) realization of a large-scale paddy field farming system for cold regions, (2) breeding pioneering cultivars to further improve crop yield, crop quality, and outstanding crop characteristics, and (3) development of technical countermeasures for radioactive substances from the nuclear power plant disaster.

In strengthening the hub function, we have established an advisory board consisting of stakeholders involved in paddy field farming, livestock production, fruit production, agricultural cooperatives, and prefectural extension officers in order to grasp and evaluate the needs of farmlands more precisely. We have already received some valuable suggestions that have been incorporated into our research programs. In order to gain better understanding of the local needs and steady implementation of developed technologies, we have deployed coordinators for Industry-Academia Collaboration and communicators for agricultural technology. In April, we increased the number of communicators, and now we have a framework to respond to a wide range of fields.

Under such system, what is being put into the test is our ability to collaborate with public institutions, extension organizations, universities, private enterprises, farming organizations etc. in pursuing on-site evaluations and implementation of R&D results by NARO. Currently, the Tohoku Agricultural Research Center is promoting research projects such as the development of lowland crop rotation farming system in the cold regions (Strengthening Farming Management Project), introduction of onion cultivation in spring (Regional Strategy Project), reduction of forage production cost through field and livestock farming collaboration (Regional Strategy Project), development of farming technologies for small- to medium-scale and large-scale paddy-field farming (Regional Revitalization Project), and early resumption of farming in the nuclear disaster affected areas (a commissioned project). In addition to these research projects, we will continue to work together harmoniously and efficiently so that our various research activities can contribute to the development of regional agriculture.

In addition, we provide various outreach activities such the public opening of rape fields for flower viewing, hands-on farming program for elementary school, science classes in the field, series of public lectures, and technical guidance for efficient technology transfer to farmers.

In order to respond to the expectations of society, we are promoting R&D based on the needs of the community, increasing our impact, broadening our reach, facilitate social implementation of our research outputs, and promoting agriculture in the rural areas through outreach activities. We sincerely thank everyone for all the assistance and wish for continuous support and guidance in the future.

Hirokazu SUMIDA
Tohoku Agricultural Research Center, NARO