Application Procedure for Fixed-term Researcher (Nurturing Young Researcher Category)

The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) is now accepting applications for fixed-term employment of young researchers.

The Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS) is now accepting applications for fixed-term employment of young researchers.

In order to facilitate further advancement in research activities that meet global challenges, JIRCAS is offering fixed-term employment aimed at nurturing excellent and highly motivated young researchers in pursuing research in the field of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

The employment contract is subject to renewal after an evaluation of the performance and achievements of the researcher to be carried out 11 months before the end of the term. A fixed-term researcher who successfully passes the evaluation will be employed continuously as a regular researcher.

A fixed-term researcher may take maternity leave, childcare leave, or nursing leave during the term, and may apply for extension of the term to cover the period for leave of absence.

Available positions and job description

Recruitment no.

Research Division, Position, No. of  positions

Employment period

Research description・ Research outputs ・ Key words

1 (Hydrology and water resources)

Rural Development Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

Increasing crop production is needed to solve the food shortages and malnutrition facing the Sub-Saharan African region. Among these crops, rice consumption is expanding rapidly, and the Coalition for African Rice Development (CARD) Phase 2 has set a goal of doubling rice production by 2030 from the 2019 level. In addition to research and development of breeding materials and cultivation technology, it is also necessary to develop irrigation technology for securing stable water resources and using them efficiently to achieve this goal.

In the Sub-Saharan Africa, rice cultivation is mostly done under rainwater conditions, which results in unstable production. Converting rainfed rice cultivation to irrigated rice cultivation will significantly increase yield, but the areas that can be irrigated are limited due to constraints in water resources, environment and the economy. Identification of areas that can be converted to irrigated rice cultivation will provide important information for expanding rice production in Africa in the future.

Therefore, it is necessary to clarify the current status of water resource utilization based on topographical and hydrological conditions collected through satellite images and UAVs, and to clarify the irrigation potential based on hydrological models, as well as to identify irrigable areas in consideration of local rice cultivation conditions, and to clarify the development potential based on yield predictions. Since the yield of paddy fields is greatly affected by weather conditions such as rainfall, temperature, and solar radiation, as well as soil and water conditions in paddy fields, we are looking for young researcher(s) who will collaborate with local institutions on research and development possibilities taking these factors into consideration. The candidate researcher will be required to carry out basic and fundamental research, apply the results to the sites in developing regions, coordinate the research onsite, and to collaborate with researchers in Japan and overseas. The potential researcher is also expected to have knowledge of hydrology, irrigation and drainage, although not a pre-requisite, and to boldly challenge new research targets in hydrology and water resource utilization.

Research topics

  • Analysis of the current state of water resource utilization using satellite images and UAVs, and evaluation of irrigation potential using hydrological models
  • Prediction of the impact of future climate change (changes in rainfall, etc.) on yield of rainfed rice in Sub-Saharan Africa using a hydrological model

Keywords

Hydrology, runoff model, image analysis, irrigation drainage, water balance, heat balance

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

2 (Salinization)

Rural Development Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

As the world population continues to grow, highly productive irrigation agriculture has played an important role in contributing to global food security. However, in drylands where irrigation is essential for farming, soil salinization is occurring due to improper water management, such as over-irrigation and poor drainage, and the decline in agricultural productivity due to soil degradation has become a serious issue. To mitigate soil salinization, it is effective to improve field drainage capacity,  eliminate excess water, and control the rise of groundwater level. Water-saving irrigation that reduce the inflow of salt into the field is also effective. However, in developing countries, the introduction of drainage facilities and water-saving irrigation technologies, which require funding, is often implemented through government projects, and farmers rarely take action.

In order to control soil salinization in a wide area and to achieve sustainable land management, it is necessary to develop and propose low-cost salinization measures that farmers can implement as part of their farming activities. Therefore, the purpose of our research is to develop low-cost salinization control technologies that can be practiced by farmers in terms of both irrigation and drainage.

We are looking for young researcher(s) who will work on elucidating the causes of soil salinization, improving salinization and agricultural production with the developed technologies, and evaluating the impact on soil condition (chemical properties, carbon content, and fertility). The successful candidate should have a positive attitude towards conducting research in a developing region such as India, as well as the ability to collaborate with domestic and foreign researchers, and have an excellent international outlook. In addition, the candidate is also expected to have knowledge of crop cultivation and soil science, and research experience in drylands, but also willing to take on the challenge of new research subjects without being bound by such knowledge.

Research topics

  • Evaluation of the effect of soil salinization control technology application on agricultural productivity based on soil chemistry
  • Evaluation of the effect of harvest residues buried underground as hydrophobic (filter) materials on soil carbon content and soil fertility

Keywords

Soil chemistry, drylands, irrigation agriculture, salinization, soil fertility

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

3 (Economic evaluation, analysis of technology demand)

Social Sciences Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

The agricultural sector in economically developing countries is placed under a global environment in which materials required for production, such as agricultural chemicals and machinery, as well as food products which are in short supply, are imported while locally produced agricultural products are exported to foreign countries. In this situation, the farmers are expected to concentrate production of specific products according to expanding markets. On the other hand, they are also exposed to a variety of risks, such as decrease in production of those products due to climate change or a sudden drop in demand due to the spread of epidemics. In order to overcome this unstable business environment, it is necessary to develop agricultural technologies for stable production, and systems that support the selection and use of those technologies to stabilize farm management.

JIRCAS has been developing soil conservation technologies such as in-field fallow system and stone masonry method, and salt removal technology using shallow culvert drainage. Furthermore, we have developed technologies for optimal crop cultivation under low soil fertility and livestock feeds using local resources, and we plan to develop a farming support system combining these technologies. In order to demonstrate the usefulness of these technologies both domestically and internationally, it is necessary to objectively grasp their effects based on data collected through surveys of local farmers, and to clearly show in numerical values such as the rate of increase in production of agricultural products, the amount of increase in farm income, and decrease in price fluctuations. Furthermore, the acceptance of these technologies by farmers and the factors which affect the acceptability must be considered when these technologies are adopted.

Therefore, we are looking for a young researcher who can evaluate the effects of the new agricultural technologies developed at JIRCAS from the perspective of local farmers. This researcher is expected to work on the evaluation of various newly developed technologies using a wide range of econometric methods. The candidate researcher must have a sense of cooperativeness and global awareness to promote joint research collaboration with researchers in Japan and foreign countries.

Research topics

  • Economic evaluation of soil reservation technologies developed in Africa and South Asian region
  • Economic evaluation of upland cropping support system in the African region

Keywords

Technology evaluation, mathematical programming, qualitative data analysis, farm survey, social receptivity

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

4 (Advanced utilization of microbial saccharification)

Crop, Biological Resources and Post-harvest Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

 

Development of resource recycling and environmental conservation technologies are indispensable for coping with global climate change and preventing further environmental deterioration. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery (MAFF) has formulated an upcoming policy of Japan’s national food system dialogue on the “Measures for achievement of decarbonization and resilience with innovation (MeaDRI)”, as there is a strong demand for agriculture, forestry and fisheries with a sustainable production system that maximizes resource utilization efficiency. In developing regions that depend on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, the enormous amount of agricultural by-products has become a source of greenhouse gas emission, air pollution and health injuries due to insufficient technology for treatment and disposal, thereby posing global environmental risks.

JIRCAS has been developing a microbial saccharification technology for the proper recycling of agricultural by-products in developing regions, mainly in Southeast Asia, and has been working on the development of carbon recycling technology for energy production and conversion to raw materials for chemical products. In addition, with the advancement of these technologies, we are developing an integrated microbial saccharification technology that enables direct production of biohydrogen and biogas from agricultural by-products. In recent years, it has become clear that one of the saccharifying microorganism that we developed has the potential to contribute to a sustainable agricultural production system, such as plant growth promotion, nitrogen fixation, soil nutrition improvement, remediation, disease resistance induction, etc.

Therefore, we are looking for a young researcher who will work on systematic sustainable agricultural production by clarifying the potential of saccharifying microorganisms to improve the plant cultivation environment, and developing an integrated technology of microbial saccharification and biohydrogen/biogas production. Applicants are required to have knowledge and research experience in microbiology, plant pathology, agronomy, molecular biology and bioinformatics. The candidate is also expected to have a sense of cooperation and international perspective to collaborate with domestic and international researchers, and eventually construct a sustainable agricultural system including cultivation and production from agricultural by-products utilization technology.

Research topics

  • Development of biohydrogen/biogas fermentation technology from agricultural waste using advanced microbial saccharification technology
  • Development and evaluation of crop cultivation technology utilizing the ability of saccharifying microorganisms
  • Systematization of saccharification technology and crop cultivation technology

Keywords

Microbiology, Plant pathology, Agronomy, Molecular biology, Bioinformatics

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

5 (Protected horticulture, Vegetable growth model)

Tropical Agriculture Research Front (Ishigaki), 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

Vegetable production in developing countries has become increasingly important in recent years from the perspective of creating income opportunities for farmers, improving nutrition, and women's participation. On the other hand, climatic instability due to climate change is threatening the stable production of vegetables by farmers, especially in high-temperature and arid areas. Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish a stable year-round production system for vegetables incorporating horticulture technology.

In Japan, a project on development of advanced plant factory system through knowledge integration and innovation has been implemented for 5 years through collaboration among industry, government, and academia, to develop a low-cost and high-yielding integrated plant factory system suited for hot and humid environments by combining Japan’s strengths in vegetable seeds and seedlings, greenhouse covering materials, energy-saving technology, and ICT technology. The Tropical Agriculture Research Front (TARF) of JIRCAS located at Ishigaki island, Okinawa has participated in the project and has jointly developed cultivation technology for vegetables under tropical and subtropical areas by utilizing similar climatic conditions with the Asia monsoon region.

Based on the above background, we will clarify the effects of environmental factors such as high temperature, high humidity, and strong solar radiation specific to tropical and subtropical environments on vegetable growth and distribution to fruits, such as photosynthesis, flowering, and fruiting. We are looking for a young researcher who will develop a physiologically-based growth model on vegetables for tropical and subtropical environments where climate change is becoming apparent. In addition, the researcher is expected to contribute to the development of stable vegetable production technology in Southeast Asia by applying the results of the research to other countries with similar environments. In the future, the researcher is also expected to boldly tackle issues such as establishing stable vegetable production technology in the Middle East, Africa etc., where the environment is more severe, using greenhouse cultivation or open field cultivation adapted to local conditions, based on different cultivation problems and demand in such regions.

Research topics

  • Development of technology for year-round production of tomatoes, strawberries, and other fruit vegetables under high temperature and high humidity conditions
  • Development of a growth model for vegetables suited for tropical and subtropical regions
  • Development of stable vegetable production technology through the application of growth models to developing countries such as Southeast Asia

Keywords

Environmental control, Plant physiology, Protected horticulture, Vegetable production

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

6 (Evaluation of carbon cycle)

Tropical Agriculture Research Front (Ishigaki), 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

The world has begun to take a major step toward carbon neutrality. In Japan as well, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has formulated the "Green Food System Strategy", which proposes the introduction of carbon sequestration for the management of forests, agricultural land and the ocean. Biochar is known as one of effective technologies for carbon sequestration in agricultural land. A concept of blue carbon is proposed to manage carbon sequestration in the ocean. In coastal ecosystems, mangrove plays an important role for blue carbon, and the amount of blue carbon stored below ground is much higher compared to above ground. Mangrove forests are widely distributed in the coastal areas of tropical islands and have a great impact on the Earth's carbon cycle, but their area is rapidly decreasing due to human activities. As advocated by the 4 ‰ initiative, the soil of agricultural land leading to coastal ecosystems through rivers are capable of storing large amounts of carbon. However, inadequate management of agricultural soils, especially in tropical environments agricultural land, has led to the loss of soil organic matter and carbon release.

We have been working on the quantification of environmental load from mountains to the coastal ecosystem in tropical environments and the development of technology to reduce it, the quantification of the long-term effect of organic matter application and no-tillage on soil carbon storage, and the analysis of mangrove growth analysis etc.

In order to promote the formulation of conservation strategies and carbon accumulation in tropical regions based on carbon dynamics in forests, agricultural lands, and coastal ecosystems that are all connected through rivers, we are looking for a motivated researcher to evaluate the effects of changes in land use on carbon sequestration, and to develop, monitor and evaluate technologies for carbon sequestration in agricultural land and coastal ecosystems. The researcher, to be based at the Tropical Agriculture Research Front (TARF), is expected to conduct qualitative and quantitative analysis of environmental samples for evaluation of carbon dynamics and wide-scale carbon accretion in coastal ecosystems of tropical regions through advanced technologies such as machine learning along with GIS approaches. In addition, the researcher is required to have a sense of internationalism and cooperativeness in conducting research in collaboration with researchers from various fields in Japan and other countries in. The researcher is also expected to have the ability to facilitate smooth and effective exchange of opinions including research results and desirable actions with various stakeholders, including the government, private companies, farmers, and local residents.

Research topics

  • Clarification of carbon dynamics and quantification of wide-scale carbon accretion in coastal ecosystems in tropical environments
  • Development of carbon sequestration technologies by applying biochar in agricultural land ecosystems in tropical environments
  • Evaluation of the impact of land use changes on the material dynamics of coastal ecosystems in tropical regions

Key words

Carbon dynamics, Soil organic matter, Wide-scale evaluation of carbon accretion by GIS, Machine learning

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

7 (Aquaculture and propagation of Crustacean)

 Fisheries Division, 1 person

5 years (from 1 October 2021)

Overview of research activities

Crustaceans such as shrimps and crabs are international commodities that are distributed worldwide and have a robust demand. The demands in countries with growing incomes such as emerging economies continue to rise. There is also a wide range of crustacean producing countries, from developing countries to developed countries. The shrimp aquaculture in Southeast Asia is a typical crustacean business which has become a very important industry. Furthermore, shrimps and crabs, which are caught or farmed, are important sources of income for fishing villages in developing countries.

However, in intensive (commercial) seedling production and aquaculture of crustaceans, especially shrimps, mortality due to pathogen is a major problem, which regularly inflicts heavy losses on aquaculture operators and industries. In addition, pathogen in crab seedling production and cannibalism in subsequent aquaculture have also become major problems. Furthermore, natural resources of crustaceans are constantly overfished due to high prices, and climate change is causing disruption and deterioration of these resources, so there is a need for effective propagation through seedling release.

Therefore, in order to contribute to sustainable fisheries and aquaculture of crustaceans, we are seeking a young researcher to conduct research on the physiology and ecology of crustaceans, including selective breeding to produce disease-resistant seedlings for aquaculture, breeding technologies for bloodstock of shrimps and crabs, efficient seedling production and aquaculture technologies, and effective technologies for seedling release and propagation. This researcher is expected to take the initiative in research and technological development to solve the above problems, as a collaboration among domestic and/or international research institutes, universities, companies, and governments.

Research Topics

  • Research on efficient seedling production of disease-resistant shrimps
  • Research on efficient breeding, fertilization and spawning of shrimps and crabs, and development of efficient seedling production and aquaculture technologies
  • Field work and research to increase survival rates after release of seedlings using knowledge of crustacean ecology

Keywords

Crustaceans, propagation and aquaculture, physiology and ecology, domestic and international field work

Other qualifications

  • Must be comfortable working in an international setting with overseas collaborators.
  • Experience in overseas research activities desirable but not required.

Qualification

  1. The applicant must possess a doctoral degree or expected to receive the degree by September 2021.
  2. The applicant must possess sufficient academic background, experience and skills to pursue research in the intended post. 
  3. The applicant must have sufficient Japanese language ability that would not interfere with daily work.

JIRCAS promotes gender equality in accordance with the Basic Act for Gender Equal Society, and strongly encourages qualified female researchers as well as non-Japanese researchers to apply (The applicant must have a resident status granting permission to work).

Salary and benefits

  1. Salary 
    • The monthly salary (basic salary) is JPY331,000 - 394,000 commensurate with qualifications and experience in accordance with the JIRCAS Staff Salary Regulations.
    • Bonuses equivalent to 1.675 months’ basic salary (less for first bonus after recruitment) are paid twice a year in June and December. Allowances include commuting allowance, overtime work allowance, regional allowance (if assigned in Tsukuba), and special area work allowance (if assigned in Ishigaki). However, allowances for dependents and housing are not provided. The monthly salary and other benefits are subject to change in accordance with revision of regulations.
  2. Day-off and leave
    • Saturdays, Sundays 
    • Public holidays, yearend and new year holidays (Dec 29 – Jan 3)
    • Annual paid leave: 5 days on recruitment (Oct. 1, 2021)
    • Others : sick leave, summer leave (3 days), nursing care leave (5 days), special  leave (marriage, maternity, mourning) 
  3. Working hours
    • Standard working time (8:30 am - 5:15 pm)
    • Flextime system, discretionary working time system (need to apply)
  4. Welfare benefits
    • Health insurance and pension by MAFF mutual aid association
    • Employment insurance, Workers’ accident compensation insurance

Documents to submit

  1. Curriculum vitae (Form 1) ※ Use the prescribed form.
    ※ Please make sure to indicate an email address for correspondence. 
  2. Research achievements (Form 2) ※ Use the prescribed form.
  3. Research plan and future career goals (one-page A4, free format) 
  4. Copy of peer-reviewed publications with applicant as lead author (one copy each)
  5. Summary of previous research activities (one-page A4, free format)
  6. Recommendation letter (From current supervisor excluding JIRCAS staff. Submission is optional.)

Send documents to

Dr. Takeshi Watanabe
Head, Research Planning and Management Office
Japan International Research Center for Agricultural Sciences (JIRCAS)
1-1    Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8686
E-mail: watatake-kikaku@affrc.go.jp

Deadline of application 

June 30, 2021 (Documents must be received by 17:00.)
※ Submission by E-mail attachment or electronic file is accepted.
※ If you submit recommendation letter (Submission is optional), send original one by mail.
※ Please note that incomplete documents, flawed documents, or wrong information will be excluded in the evaluation of the applicant.

Selection process

  1. Screening of applicants based on submitted documents (mid July 2021)
  2. Interview for selected applicants (end of July to early August 2021)
    ※Place: JIRCAS Headquarters (1-1 Ohwashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki)

Start of employment 

October 1, 2021 (tentative)

For inquiries, please contact 

Dr. Takeshi Watanabe (Email: watatake-kikaku@affrc.go.jp)

Other matters

  1. All expenses incurred in attending an interview will be borne by the applicant.
  2. All submitted documents will not be sent back to the applicant regardless of the result of the application.
  3. All correspondence will be done by email only.

Handling personal data

All submitted documents will be used only for the purpose of screening the applications, and not for any other purpose.