Information Analysis

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568. International Day of the Tropics: Initiatives to Utilize Genetic Resources and the Island Environment of TARF

June 29th is designated by the United Nations as the “International Day of the Tropics” to celebrate the extraordinary diversity and highlight the challenges of the tropics. The tropical regions account for 40% of the world's total surface area, approximately 80% of the world's biodiversity, and the majority of the world's diverse languages and cultures. The tropics have experienced significant economic development in recent years, but with the accompanying population growth and urbanization, coupled with climate change, the region faces challenges such as the degradation of the natural environment and ecosystems and a rapid decline in biodiversity. The rich natural environment and diverse biological resources of tropical regions need to be protected as common assets of the Earth.


 

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567. Nature Food: Innovation in Fruit and Vegetable Supply Chains

Vegetables and fruits are beneficial to the health of people and the planet. However, they also face challenges such as food loss, food miles, and climate change. This issue features an editorial from Nature Food.

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566. Sea Ice Melting and Tipping Point

The melting of sea ice in Greenland and the Arctic Ocean, along with the thawing of permafrost, the melting of the Antarctic ice sheet, and the deforestation of the Amazon, is considered one of the tipping points in the climate change debate that will involve large-scale changes and will gradually become irreversible for our planet. Averting the threat of a global emergency will require urgent science-based action and social change to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
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565. FAO-ITU Report on Status of Digital Agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) have compiled a report on the current state of digital agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa. Findings from the country-by-country analysis are presented, along with recommendations for future action.
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564. Heatwave Reported Around the World

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), heatwaves have spread across the world, from North America to Europe, with some cases reported already reaching July or August temperatures before the Summer Solstice. Immediate mitigation and adaptation measures are needed.
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563. Discovered Rice Gene Region Associated with Low Soil Fertility Tolerance in Small Farm Conditions in Madagascar

 

Rice is Madagascar's staple food, and the per capita rice consumption is among the highest in the world. In Madagascar, rice is mainly cultivated by smallholders in low fertility soils with no external inputs such as mineral fertilizers. As a result, rice productivity remains low and the gap between rice production and consumption is widening at the national level. We have evaluated genetic resources from the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) genebank, and identified loci associated with low soil fertility tolerance for total panicle weight per plant, straw weight, total plant biomass, heading date and plant height. A donor carrying total panicle weight loci was identified and crossed to a local variety, to initiate variety development through a combination of marker-assisted selection with selection on-farm to improve rice yield under local cultivation conditions.

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562. Characteristics of New Asian Soybean Rust Resistant Cultivars Developed in Paraguay

Asian soybean rust (ASR) has a serious impact on soybean production in South America, which is a major soybean producing area, especially in tropical and subtropical regions. To combat the soybean rust disease, JIRCAS in collaboration with Nikkei-CETAPAR in Paraguay, has developed and released new ASR-resistant soybean cultivars JFNC 1 and JFNC 2. In this study, the extent to which these new cultivars have improved ASR resistance and yield compared to the original parental cultivars was investigated. The results showed that the yield potential of JFNC 1 and JFNC 2 was 1.7 and 1.4 times higher, respectively, than the parental cultivars when no fungicides were used in ARS occurring fields. Since production costs and environmental impact are increasing locally due to fungicide-resistant ASR pathogen, it is expected that the introduction of these new cultivars will be effective in combating soybean rust disease.

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561. FAO Foresight Report — Thinking about the future of food safety

FAO has published "Thinking about the future of food safety—A foresight report". Food safety is the cornerstone of the agri-food system, and all stakeholders must be prepared to navigate the threats, disruptions, and challenges that may arise in the future, while addressing multiple challenges such as climate change, population growth, and natural resource depletion. This report describes the factors and related trends that will impact food safety and ultimately, consumer health, the economy, and even international trade.
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560. Desertification and Drought Day ー Rising up from drought together

The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is held annually on June 17th to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. Desertification is the deterioration of land in arid areas, which occupy more than one-third of the world's land area and are home to nearly 40% of the world's population, primarily due to human activity and climate change. In fact, this desertification is not the expansion of existing deserts. Desertification is the decline in land productivity due to poverty and political instability, as well as excessive cultivation and grazing, improper irrigation and deforestation.
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559. Global Trends in Agricultural Land Expansion

Today, global food production is on a scale unprecedented in history, but the amount of land used has begun to decline. This means that it is possible to feed more people while restoring natural ecosystems. On the other hand, looking around the world, the hotspot for rangeland expansion is shifting from arid and temperate regions to biodiversity- and carbon-rich tropical regions. Increasing crop yields and agricultural productivity in the tropics is extremely important.
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558. FAO Food Outlook - Spillover Effects on Production and Prices of Fuel, Fertilizer and Other Commodities

The FAO Food Outlook was published on June 9 and indicated that factors such as soaring input prices, climate, and market uncertainty stemming from the war in Ukraine could lead to tight food markets and historically high food import costs. The Food Outlook included special features on the impact of the war in Ukraine on global markets and the spillover effects on production and prices of fuels, fertilizers, and other inputs. In particular, the report warned that a sharp rise in input prices could prolong the already historically high food price levels and place a double burden on importing countries.
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557. Development of Enzyme-Free Microbial Saccharification Technology to Efficiently and Inexpensively Obtain Glucose from Biomass for the Production of Biofuels and Biochemicals

A joint research group of JIRCAS and King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT) has been developing a saccharification technology to efficiently and inexpensively obtain glucose, which is necessary for the production of biofuels and biochemicals, from cellulose-based biomass, including stems, leaves, peels, and lees from harvesting and processing agricultural crops, and food residues, fiber and paper waste from everyday life. The newly developed “microbial saccharification” is a revolutionary technology that converts cellulose to glucose using only microbial culture, without the need for any enzyme addition, and is expected to be applied to materials such as waste cotton fiber that have not been recycled before, since it is expected to reduce costs.

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556. Genomic Prediction of Zinc Biofortification Potential in 3000 Gene Bank Accessions to Increase Grain Zinc Concentrations in Rice

The approach of increasing zinc (Zn) concentrations in edible parts of food crops (Zn-biofortification) is a global breeding goal to alleviate Zn malnutrition, which particularly affects small children that need it for proper development. Because the Zn concentration in polished rice is usually too low to provide a sufficient proportion of the daily Zn intake, Zn deficiency is widespread in households where rice is the staple food and where people cannot afford to diversify their diet by adding mineral-rich fruits, vegetables, and meat. We used a genomic prediction model to predict Zn concentrations in 3000 genetic resources and selected potential high-Zn donors for experimental validation and subsequent biofortification breeding in Madagascar.

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555. Investment in Green Recovery

For the first time in nearly two years, the government has decided to reopen the entry of foreign tourists to the country on June 10, after having stopped it as border measure to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has expressed its commitment to "green recovery” and has published a website summarizing the need for investments. Meanwhile, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is threatening food security through high food, fuel, and fertilizer prices, putting a damper on the road to recovery from COVID-19.
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554. Enhancing the Function of Water Facilities at the African Farmer Level

Sub-Saharan Africa imports increasing amounts of rice from Asia and North America each year to meet growing domestic rice consumption. In order to realize the goal of doubling rice production in Africa, it is essential to efficiently and sustainably cultivate rice in lowland areas. However, earth canals maintained with farmer-level technology are eroded by water runoffs and rainfall, reducing the function of the canals and making it impossible to plant rice. JIRCAS has prepared and released a manual that enables local farmers to construct low-cost irrigation facilities and maintain over the long term with their own technology.
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553. World Oceans Day

June 8 is World Oceans Day. It was established to create an opportunity to raise global awareness of the challenges facing the international community regarding the oceans. Also, 2022 is the  International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. In today's Pick Up, we introduce two examples of international joint research related to small-scale fisheries and aquaculture in the field of fisheries featured in the JIRCAS Research Highlights.

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552. Sustainable Development Report 2022: SDGs Progress Falls for Second Consecutive Year

The Sustainable Development Report 2022 has been published, showing that progress on the SDGs has declined for the second year in a row. Japan ranks 19th out of 163 countries in the country rankings of SDG indicators.
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551. FAO Food Price Index — Two consecutive months of decline but 20-30% higher than last year

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its World Food Price Index on June 3. After reaching an all-time high in March 2022, the food price index declined for two consecutive months in April and May, but remained 29.2 percentage points (22.8%) higher than the same period last year. This drop reflects declines in vegetable oil and dairy price indeces, while grain and meat price indeces rose on June 3, which also marked the 100th day since the start of the war in Ukraine. UN agencies reported that they are committed to negotiations with Russia and other countries concerned to avert a food security crisis in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine

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550. World Environment Day — Only One Earth

June 5 is World Environment Day, established in commemoration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm from June 5, 1972, following a proposal from Japan. This year marks exactly 50 years since the conference, and the high-level conference “Stockholm+50: A healthy planet for the prosperity of all - our responsibility and opportunity” is being held on June 2 and 3 in Stockholm, Sweden.
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549. The Importance of Social Science in Climate Change Action

Social change is needed alongside technological improvements to improve people's quality of life and ensure the prosperity of both the economy and the eco-system while achieving the goals of climate action. A recently published opinion paper in PLOS CLIMATE highlights the importance of social science in climate change action.