NARO: An Overview

The National Agriculture and Food Research Organization or NARO is the core institute in Japan for conducting research and development on agriculture and food. Our overall mission is to contribute to the development of society through innovations in agriculture and food, by promoting pioneering and fundamental R&D. We conduct technological development to make agriculture a competitive and attractive industry, and contribute to increasing the nation's food self-sufficiency rate. To this end, we conduct R&D to increase the productivity and safety of agriculture, and lessen production costs; and to promote new markets and future industries by developing value-added agricultural products, through incorporating market needs into respective products. In addition, we conduct R&D regarding global issues such as climate change, and the utilization of local agricultural resources to maximize the multi-functionality of agriculture. We regard the contribution to recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake, and especially R&D in relation to the aftermath of the nuclear power station accident, as an important NARO mission. Achievements and intellectual properties become meaningful only when they are promulgated throughout society. NARO aims at the speedy implementation of our achievements by promoting public relations and promulgation efforts through industry-academia-government cooperation. Our missions are summarized a follows:

Establishment of Regional Farming Models

First, we set a goal to establish a regional farming model for each region, to contribute to the enhancement of production sites. Based on the research achievements of NARO, we will collaborate with national research institutes, universities and public corporations, to establish farming models adapted to each region. NARO and its regional research centers will play a major role in research on farm management, cultivation and cropping systems, ICT (Information and Communication Technology) and agricultural mechanization, livestock, horticulture, breeding, fertilizer and pest control.

Advancement in crop breeding using genomic selection

Breeding new cultivars and developing new technologies are essential to vigorous agricultural production. In particular, we regard advancement in crop breeding, which exploits research achievements in genome selection, as vital. The NARO Institute of Crop Science facilitates the speedy development of novel crops with highly desirable agronomic traits. For the time being, the research focus is rice, wheat and soybeans but in future this will be expanded to a wide range of crops, to advance breeding using genomic selection.

Incorporating market needs into research

The Agriculture and Food Business Research Center has been established to incorporate market needs into research, and thereby contribute to the health and quality of life. This research center will aim at enhancing research methods for industry-academia- government collaboration in developing functional products, as well as enhancing NARO's capacity to conduct consistent R&D from the production site to consumer's table.

Global issues and the utilization of local agricultural resources

The plans above involve future initiatives, but we consider it necessary to immediately emphasize and pursue cooperation regarding R&D projects relating to global issues and the utilization of local agricultural resources. These tasks are fundamental to agriculture and farming communities, and a critical cornerstone of NARO's R&D. We must strengthen our R&D efforts regarding climate change, increasing the multi-functionality of agriculture and farming communities, development of biomass and reusable energy, utilization of abandoned fields and paddies, wildlife management, etc. The term 'environment', which is common to all these issues, is an important keyword for agricultural research. With the integration of the National Institute for Agro-Environmental Sciences (NIAES) into NARO, we will explore how R&D regarding the environment should incorporate environmental conservation-type agricultural R&D in the context of global issues.

Recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake

R&D for recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake is an important cornerstone of NARO's R&D mission. In 2012, we established the Agricultural Radiation Research Center in the Fukushima Prefecture, to respond to the nuclear power station accident. Based primarily in this center, we have been contributing to the development of decontamination technologies for farmland soil, and radioactive material transfer-control technologies for agricultural products; and will continue our efforts to restore productivity to all farms which are effected by the incident.

Creative research organization

Given the mission described above, NARO will aim to become a highly creative research organization, promoting gender equality and an open and comfortable working environment for our staff. At the same time, we will ensure rigorous operation, with full compliance and thorough risk management. In sum, NARO will seek to translate its goals into relevant terms for each member of its staff, while at the same time promoting a strong sense of unity and contribution to society.