Agroecological Production Strategies in Policy and Practice

About This Group

Food production in Asia is at a crossroads. There is rapid urbanization in developing countries, and population decline in developed countries, all while the basic survival of agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors in rural communities is being threatened. Over-emphasis on commercialization changes “food” into “commodities," which transforms the quality of activities surrounding food, the ways in which people live, and landscapes on the whole.

Within these shifting contexts, there are various pathways for an alternative food production transition to take. Working Group 3 focuses on an agroecological mode of production and looks at emerging processes of transition and their potential as a viable developmental pathway. Agroecology applies principles of ecology to agriculture (in which we include fisheries) to enable the design and management of a more sustainable food production system. It is a science first and foremost, shaped by each region’s policies and practices in food production, but has developed a potent political message as well. Specifically, WG3 investigates agroecological production strategies as embodied in multi-scale policies and everyday practices. Particular areas of inquiry include agroecologically-oriented policies that support guarantees of self-determination and autonomy for food producer communities, the endogenous and endemic knowledge and technologies of food producers, networks of solidarity between rural and urban regions, and sustainable animal protein resource harvesting. Field sites include various locations in Japan, Bhutan and China.


Main Members

Norie Tamura

Senior Project Resarcher, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature


Tamura was born in Nishinomiya City of Hyogo prefecture. She has taken her current post as Senior Project Resaercher in 2016 following her post at a private thinktank. Her resaerch interests are in natural resource management, the commons, human resource and policy development in primary industries ranging from agriculture, forestry to fisheries, with a particular focus placed on support mechanisms in rural communities in Japan. Tamura recieved her PhD. from Kyoto University in 2007.

Mai Kobayashi

Project Researcher, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature


Mai's interests in how socio-ecological, political, and economic issues are embodied by and embedded in "food" started to grow when she was in college. Mai's exploration of "good food" has since led her to visit and work in many farms throughout the world. In graduate school, her work focused on the sustainability and adaptations of small-holder peasant farms. Her field work has mainly been conducted in the Ohara disctrict in Kyoto, and in Western Bhutan. She recieved her Ph.D. from Kyoto University Graduate School of Global Environmental Studies in 2016.

Maximilian Spiegelberg

Project Researcher, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature


My interest lies in actively transforming to a sustainable society through exchange across boundaries of disciplines, cultures, and skills. It has led me to work, study and live at different places, organization and with all kinds of people. In 2017 I received my Ph.D. in Environmental Management from Kyoto University and currently I work as a FEAST project researcher at RIHN looking into organic markets, bee-keeping, and (urban) gardening.

Aki Imaizumi

Project Researcher, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature


My research field is agricultural economics, especially market management. I studied seed supply systems in organic farming based on fieldwork in Japan and the Netherlands. I am also interested in agricultural plant genetic resources management and I have analyzed farmers’ and public sectors’ activities for the conservation and use of local varieties in Japan and Europe. During my work as economic advisor at the Japanese embassy in Luxembourg, I studied the Luxembourgish dairy market and organic farming.

Keiko Tanaka

Associate Professor, Department of Community & Leadership Development College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment, University of Kentucky

Dr. Tanaka's research primarily focuses on the role of agricultural science and technology in reconfiguring the relationship between production and consumption in the global context. Her recent work examines knowledge politics surrounding food safety, healthy food, agricultural sustainability, and food localization. Beside the Sociology program, she teaches courses in the Sustainable Agriculture Program in the College of Agriculture and the UK Honor’s Program. Dr. Tanaka also directs the UK Asia Center which provides instructional and outreach programs on Asian societies and cultures for UK community members and Kentuckians. Tanaka recieved her Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 1997.

Takanori Oishi

Lecturer, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

Oishi's interest in approaching environmental issues through food started when he was introduced to fishing when he was in elementary school. His curiosity has since taken him to explore slash and burn agriculture, matsutake harvesting, and farming and hunter-gatherer communities in Cameroon. Oishi recieved his MA from the department of Science, Kyoto University in 2003 and his PhD from the Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, in 2014. He has worked at the Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University, and the Resaerch Institute for Humanity and Nature as a project resaercher before taking his current post.

Mikitaro Shobayashi

Professor, Gakushuin Women’s College

Dr. Shobayashi has extensive experience working on water resources and agricultural policies, and is interested in contributing to policy making in Japan toward efficient allocation of natural and agricultural resources.
After working for the World Bank in Washington D.C. as an operation officer, he was put in charge of establishing an irrigation policy in Japan under the MAFF.
He joined the OECD as a senior analyst and authored reports on the multifunctionality of agriculture and their policy implications. When he returned to Japan, he worked for the prefectural government in Shiga where he was a core member of a taskforce introducing an agri-environmental payment initiatve for farmers who comply with environmental requirements. This was the first attempt of its kind in Japan.
After leaving MAFF in 2007, he has been conducting research on water and agricultural policies. His research interests in recent years lie in how to develop effective policy mechanisms that include protecting the environment as well as rural communities engaged in agriculture. He recieved his MA from Johns Hopkins University in 1988, and a Ph.D. in Agronomy from the University of Tokyo in 2005.

Daniel Niles

Associate Professor, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature・准教授

Daniel is a human-environmental geographer interested in how people understand nature. His reseach centers on the presense and relationships of material and immaterial cultural elements found in long-standing agro-ecological complexes, and how they can illuminate specific understandings of nature, environment, landscape, agriculture, and people. He is a contributor to the Anthropocene Curriculum at the Haus der Kulturn der Welt (HKW) in Berlin, and the Knowledge, Learning, and Societal Change (KLASICA) international research network. He was formerly a member of the scientific committee of the FAO program to recognize Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), and continues to research GIAHS sites for the FEAST project. He has been a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Insitutue for the History of Science and U.C. Berkeley. Recent publications are “Conservation of traditional agriculture and living knowledge systems, not cultural relics” (J. Ecol and Res. 2016 7(3)), and an illustrated volume published for RIHN entitled Humanity and Nature in the Japanese Archipelago. He recieved his Ph.D. from the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University in 2007.

Ayako Kawai

PhD student, Australian National University

Ayako's interest is in bio-cultural diversity conservation. Her PhD project is about 'how to transmit local crop variety seeds, seed saving skills and related culture to future generations in Japan'. She hopes to contribute to improving the situation around local crop variety conservation. She currently lives in Canberra, and is trying to get a farm plot to start practicing organic farming & seed saving.

Publications and outputs


The 1st RIHN/UCB International Workshop ...

The 1st RIHN/UCB International Workshop ...

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PresentationThe 1st RIHN/UCB International Workshop (Norie Tamura, Mai K...

On November 6-7th,  the first RIH/UCB International Workshop “Food, Agriculture, and Human Impacts on the Environment: Japan, Asia and Beyond” to commemorate the signing of a memorandum of understanding was held on the Berkeley campus. Norie Tamura (WG 3 Chair/Seniro Researcher), Mai Kobayashi (Proj...

Norie Tamura gave a lecture at NPO Senio...

Norie Tamura gave a lecture at NPO Senio...

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Seminar and WorkshopNorie Tamura gave a lecture at NPO Senior Shizan Daigakkou l...

NPO Senior Shizen Daigakkou based in Osaka promotes environmental education and sociocultural activities. As a part of these activities, Professor Emeritus Masaru Tanaka at Kyoto University coordinates a lecture series of “Shizengaku (nature studies)” regarding the global environment. The 9th of its...

GIAHS fieldwork report on Humanity&Natur...

GIAHS fieldwork report on Humanity&Natur...

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PublicationGIAHS fieldwork report on Humanity&Nature Newsletter No. 67...

The report on fieldwork that Norie Tamura, WG3 Chair conducted at GIAHS site - Takachihogo-Shiibayama Mountainous Agriculture and Forestry System - in Miyazaki Prefecture was published on Humanity&Nature Newsletter No. 67. The GIAHS designation recognizes the value of what local residents see as...

XVI Biennial IASC-Conference in Utrecht,...

XVI Biennial IASC-Conference in Utrecht,...

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Conference/SymposiumXVI Biennial IASC-Conference in Utrecht, the Netherlands...

Norie Tamura, Senior Project Researcher and Mai Kobayashi, Project Researcher took part in XVI Biennial International Association for the Study of the Commons-Conference held in Utrecht, the Netherlands from July 10th to 14th, 2017, at which they presented on the following topics. Norie Tamura an...

FM Kushiro Radio Show "Yezo Shika Semina...

FM Kushiro Radio Show "Yezo Shika Semina...

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MediaFM Kushiro Radio Show "Yezo Shika Seminar" on June 21st and ...

Norie Tamura, WG3 Chair, is on the FM Kushiro radio show "Yezo Shika Seminar." It will be aired from 8:30AM to 8:45AM on June 21st and 28th. Afterwards, it will be also podcasted on their website (only Japanese). Please check from the link below. FM Kushiro Podcast: http://www.fm946.com/podcast/p...



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Seminar and Workshopワークショップ「狩猟鳥獣肉は日常になりうるか、なるべきか」を開催しました!...


Working Group 1

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Food System Mapping &

Working Group 2

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Collaborative Approaches for Food Ethics, Citizenship, and Behavioral Change

Working Group 4

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Co-designing Agri-food Eco-branding Tools for Supporting Sustainable Regions

Working Group 5

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Food Chain Transparency