JIRCAS, in cooperation with the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council (AFFRC) Secretariat, presented the Japan International Award for Young Agricultural Researchers for the ninth consecutive year. The award recognizes and honors young foreign researchers (under 40 years of age) who are highly recommended by their institutes, and whose outstanding achievements promote research and development of agricultural, forestry, fishery and other related industries in developing regions.  The 2015 commendation ceremony was held last October 27 at the U Thant Conference Hall, United Nations University (UNU) in Tokyo.

AFFRC Chairman Yoshio Kobayashi welcomed the awardees and guests, and congratulatory remarks were delivered by Tokyo University of Agriculture Professor Takuji Sasaki, UNU Senior Programme Coordinator Akira Nagata, and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Senior Advisor Tomochika Motomura. Selection Committee Chair Mutsuo Iwamoto explained the selection process.

The seven-member selection committee conducted a document review, with the chairman of the AFFRC determining three winners from among 36 candidates. Each awardee received a testimonial and a USD 5,000 cash prize.

The 2015 awardees and their research achievements

Research Achievement: Mechanism, potency and practical application of heat shock-induced resistance

Dr. Ani WIDIASTUTI

  • Dr. Ani WIDIASTUTI
  • Nationality: Republic of Indonesia
  • Institute: Universitas Gadjah Mada

 

Outline of Research Achievements

One potential solution to reduce excessive use of pesticides is to utilize the defense mechanisms of plants through the application of technologies to induce resistance. Heat shock treatment (50°C for 20s) in melon and strawberry seedlings was effective in reducing gray mold (Botrytis cinerea) and crown rot (Colletotrichum gloeosporioides) infection under a mechanism that influences heat shock-induced resistance (HSIR). In melon, peroxidase (POX) and chitinase1 (CHI1) gene expression increased at 12 and 72h after heat shock treatment, whereas in strawberry, chitinase2-1 (CHI2-1) expression increased 2 days after treatment. HSIR also covered the treated leaves (locally) and untreated leaves (systemically). In melon, salicylic acid (SA) accumulation increased after the first peak of POX and CHI gene expression. This study proposed that the HSIR mechanism included two different pathways that functioned simultaneously. The first pathway is the bypass pathway and the second pathway occurs upstream of SA and leads to SA accumulation. This idea was first disseminated during the Cucurbit Working Group Meeting of the Japanese Society for Horticultural Science in 2010. Recently, this idea was also disseminated for farmers group in Indonesia due to concerns over the consequences of intensive pesticide use.

Research Achievement: Development and utilization of silage technique and agro-industrial by-products for cattle feed for the promotion of sustainable livestock agriculture in Laos

Dr. Viengsakoun NAPASIRTH

  • Dr. Viengsakoun NAPASIRTH
  • Nationality: Lao PDR
  • Institute: National University of Laos

Outline of Research Achievements

Cattle production in tropical countries such as Laos has been managed under free-range condition in natural fields, meaning, the nutritional condition of the livestock heavily depends on natural environmental condition. In particular, the shortage of cattle feed in dry season is a common problem and it needs to be addressed. Dr. Napasirth has been working on improving the quality and availability of cattle feed in Laos by fully utilizing local feed resources in Laos.

In addition to evaluating chemical composition and nutritional values of natural forages in the country, he introduced a silage technology to Laos, and evaluated the chemical composition and fermentation characteristics. Moreover, two lactic acid bacteria species showing high tolerance to acid stress and high lactic acid productivity were isolated from silage made in Laos as possible candidates for silage fermentation starter. These selected strains are expected to be useful towards producing silage with higher quality and longer storage stability.

Currently, utilization of cassava residues for livestock diets is highly desirable in reducing the risk of environmental pollution caused by rotten cassava residues neglected in factories in Laos. Dr. Napasirth demonstrated that cassava residues contained abundant nutritional contents as well as lactic acid bacteria for silage fermentation, and the silage technique could be useful in preserving the quality of cassava residues in good condition for the livestock diets. Based on these research achievements, the demonstration farm has begun testing the effectiveness of using cassava-industrial by-products as feed for the native beef cattle in Laos.

Research Achievement: Development of a cost-effective raisedbed machine for small-scale farms to improve land and water productivity in the Nile Delta

Dr. Atef SWELAM

  • Dr. Atef SWELAM
  • Nationality: Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Institute: International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas

Outline of Research Achievements

The cost-effective raisedbed machine for small-sized lands was innovated in Egypt with a goal of making land preparing and sowing on raisedbed convenient for the resource-poor smallholders in Nile Delta, so as to encourage water and land conservation practices in the intensively farmed region. The machine is fashioned after a prototype tested and refined through trials on wheat fields with participating farmers. The resulting technology offers farming accuracy and allows sowing of different crops with easy maintenance and adjustable seed rates. After long-term calibration and validation of the new prototype, the technology has been adopted and is being scaled out with a local manufacturer.

Mechanized raisedbed planting has demonstrated multiple benefits (e.g., water savings, greater efficiency in agricultural practices and increased crop yields) on wheat, maize and sugarbeet. It also reduced waterlogging with better drainage of excess water from the active root zone of the crop. The good results achieved promoted the adoption of raisedbed technology in cultivated wheat areas from 1,670 hectares to a phenomenal 45,000 hectares over three years (2011-2014).

The uptake of mechanized raisedbed planting is spreading all over Egypt, as well as to other countries in the region such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, Uzbekistan and Sudan. The machine is being used flexibly, both for intensive crops (such as wheat, berseem and rice) and interspaced crops (such as corn, sugarbeet and faba bean).

Impacts (on average): This machine achieved remarkable results and enabled the growers to
1) save irrigation water by 25%, 2) reduce seed rate by 50%, 3) decrease farming costs by 25%, 4) increase fertilizer use efficiency by 30%, 5) increase crop yields by 15-25%, 6) provide a good opportunity for local investment for fresh graduates.