For the first time in Meros history we are welcoming a Fall Research Assistant, Yoko Iino!
Yoko has a degree in Agriculture from Meiji University and spent a year studying at Srinakharinwirot University in Thailand, where she also was an agricultural volunteer working in a Hmong hill tribe village. She is now is close to completing her Master’s degree in Social Entrepreneurship at the International University of Japan in Niigata. She was accepted and trained by the Japanese government as a Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteer (JICA Volunteer) with plans for a two-year assignment in Rwanda to work on technical assistance in rural agriculture programs. However ultimately the pandemic scuttled her plans to work in Rwanda and she shifted focus to pursuing internship experience in Japan, instead of overseas.
Yoko will be joining the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries (MAFF) from January 2023 and to prepare for this new career, she will spend the fall working with Meros to deepen her experience in international agriculture development and learn advanced research skills.
Yoko discussed why she wanted to join Meros. “I was attracted by Meros’ value of “strength in diversity” and at the same time, I wanted to make good use of my educational background and work in agriculture. Initially, I was slightly anxious because everything was new and much of our communication is in English, but thanks to the kind support of Team Meros and intensive training, I had no trouble fitting into the environment.”
“I think Meros is the perfect environment to learn how to work in a professional office, how to collect and analyze data efficiently, and understanding the skillset required to become consultants. Because Meros fosters communication among teammembers I can feel free to ask anything. I really hope to absorb new things every day and contribute to Team Meros.”
In addition to jumping into Meros projects on topics such as insect for animal feed and agtech adoption in rural Japan, Yoko will be looking into feasibility of increasing organic agriculture in Japan, a goal of the government under the new Green Food System Strategy.
“In Japan’s Green Food System Strategy, which was enacted this year, a bold goal was set to expand organic farming to 25% of arable land (1 million hectares) by 2050. In addition, utilization of organic farming and conversion to organic farming is being actively discussed worldwide due to soaring prices of chemical fertilizers and growing awareness of the environmental impact of various farming methods. In this project, I am hoping to pursue the possibilities and challenges of organic farming in Japan through comparisons with conventional farming and organic farming in other countries, and also to investigate what kind of technologies and strategies could be introduced for the development of organic farming in Japan.”
Outside of the office this fall, Yoko plans to continue her love of cooking Thai, Chinese and Korean dishes – the spicier the better! She is a also a big fan of American TV dramas and movies and plans to spend time this fall immersed in Middle Earth with the new Lord of the Rings series.