250. COVID-19 and Field-oriented International Research Collaboration
Since the declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic, overseas business trips have been difficult for those involved in international cooperation activities. JIRCAS, whose mission is to develop agriculture, forestry and fisheries technology through international joint research with Asian, African, and Latin American countries to solve global issues, is no exception.
JIRCAS celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and is now exploring an international cooperation system with-corona, based on the trust developed through many years of cooperation, such as outsourcing experiments and data collection to local partners and working closely with them through online meetings.
The research collaboration in Madagascar is a good example. Since last year, Tsukuba researchers and local teams have been in constant contact online, establishing a collaborative system to continue research activities, and to collect data necessary to disseminate technologies that will lead to improved rice yields. On February 26, 2021, several high-level officials of Madagascar including the Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, the Minister of Interior and Decentralization, the Secretary-General of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Deputy Minister), the Governor of Vakinankaratra Region, and Japanese Ambassador to Madagascar visited the demonstration test site. The visit was widely publicized and provided an opportunity to promote the international joint research between JIRCAS and local partners in Madagascar. In this way, even if researchers could not go the research sites due to the continuing crisis, dissemination of research outputs and the technical transfers to farmers have been proceeding steadily.
Nonetheless, the greatest strength of JIRCAS based on 50 years of experience lies in the approach of joint research with partners in the field, and we plan to maintain this field-oriented approach even in the post-COVID-19 era. We hope that the coronavirus infection problem will converge as soon as possible, and look forward to continue working with local partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
Contributors: TSUJIMOTO Yasuhiro (Crop, Livestock and Environment Division) and KANAMORI Norihito (Research Strategy Office)