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 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

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

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.

Rika Shinkai

Researcher, Research Institute for Humanity and Nature


My background is anthropology as is my major. Back in days, I studied foods and livelihoods of the ancient people by analyzing and identifying excavated fish/animal bones and seashells. After my graduate studies, I left the academic sphere for child raising and was working as housewife for 17 years. Upon returning to the academic world in 2014, I diverted toward an ecological anthropology research, particularly on the traditional livelihood, ecological knowledge and food life in the mountainous areas in modern-day rural Japan. Currently, I work on “honey bees” with FEAST colleagues. Focusing on bees’ indispensable role in linking us with the environment, agriculture and forestry, we conduct research on beekeeping in both urban and rural areas.

Keiko Tanaka

Professor, Department of Sociology, 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

Associate Professor, 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.

Antoinette M. Dumont

Postdoctoral Researcher, University of California, Berkeley

I am an agronomist specializing in rural economics and sociology. My work focuses on the socioeconomic dimensions of agroecology and more specifically on the working conditions of producers and their farmworkers.  I serve as a co-coordinator for FEAST's sub-project "Social Sustainability of Agroecology in Japan".

Publications and outputs

Guest speaker at an online event on bees (Maximilian Spiegelberg)

Midori Farm, a volunteer Non-profit organization, organized an online event “Midori Farm Talk: Bees” on Feb 10th, 2021. Maximilian Spiegelberg, FEAST Researcher, joined the event together with Mr. Kenneth Sallit, a beekeeper in Canada, talked about the situations and challenges of honeybees and beekeeping in Japan and Canada. The recording of the event is available on YouTube...


A Paper on Agroecology in Japan Published on Agro Sur

RIHN welcomed the leading experts of agroecology, Prof. Miguel Altieri and Dr. Clara Nicholls from University of California, Berkeley through its invited scholar/fellowship program in FY2019. FEAST Project worked collaboratively to conduct a research on scaling up agroecology in Japan with 9 farmers in Kyoto, Hyogo and Hiroshima. The research result is now published on “Agro Sur” (48(2):29-41)....


Two bee-related papers published in Japanese magazines

Two bee-related papers (one on the issues of beekeeping registration system and the other on neonicotinoid insecticides) were published in Japanese magazines as follows: 1) Shinkai, R., Spiegelberg, M., Rupprechet, C. D. D., & Tamura, N. (2020), The importance of collecting basic data on beekeeping in Japan: issues and ideas for reform based on an analysis of differences between prefectural app...


Nitrous Oxide Budget 2020 and Our food System @ Online (Steven McGreevy)

Steven McGreevy, FEAST Project Leader was invited to  Online Forum “Global Nitrous Oxide Budget 2020 and Our Food System” held on Oct 29th, 2020 and gave a talk titled ” Transitioning to 1.5-degree food systems”. You can find more details about the event (flyer) from here. Abstract: The Paris climate agreement’s goal for limiting global warming to 1.5-degrees has been hailed as a critical ac...


Magazine Column&Newspaper Articles: Installation "School Lunches of the Futrue"

FEAST Project created the installation “School Lunches of the Future” as one of the RIHN’s annual Open House activities in the summer of 2019. It exhibits four different school lunch menus in four future scenarios based on the 2×2 matrix of dependency on food trade (globalization or localization?) and climate change (are we able to achieve the 1.5 degree Paris climate change goal or not?). This...


AAA@the Philippines (Maximilian Spiegelberg)

Maximilian Spiegelberg, FEAST Project Researcher, took a trip to the Philippines to join “International Meliponine Conference and Asian Apicultural Association Philippines Symposium on Pollinator Conservation” held on Feb 25th to 28th, 2020 at University of the Philippines, Los Banos, at which he gave a presentation titled “Tracking Practices of Traditional Beekeeping in Taiwan and Japan...


The American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2019 (Mai Kobayashi, Daniel Niles)

The American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting 2019 was held in Washington D.C. from April 3rd to 7th, 2019, which the FEAST team of Christoph Rupprecht (FEAST Senior Project Researcher), Mai Kobayashi (FEAST Project Researcher) and Daniel Niles (RIHN Associate Professor/FEAST member) had an opportunity to join and present the research outputs. You can find their abstracts (except for R...


An Article by the Mitsubachi Team published on Kyoto Shimbun (2019/8/14)

An article “Co-designing the future with honeybees” by the Mitsubachi Team was published on Kyoto Shimbun (Evening Edition) as a serial article of “RIHN Field Notes” on the 14th of August, 2019. The following is the original full text in Japanese. 上賀茂発 地球研フィールドノート(連載)⑤ミツバチと共に未来を作る:生態系へ視野広げ 優しい街に(真貝理香、マキシミリアン・スピーゲルバーグ、クリストフ・ルプレヒト)...


FEAST Session at GRF2019 in Hong Kong

From June 26th to 29th, 2019, “2019 Hong Kong Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption” was organized at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. At GRF, Steven McGreevy, FEAST project leader, chaired two sessions “Session 2d: Changing Personal and Public Consumption: Experiences and Movements (S-15)” on the 27th and “Session 4a: Food Futures in Asia:...


“International Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture: Voices from Shinshu” in Nagano

On June 2nd, 2019, “International Symposium on Sustainable Agriculture: Voices from Shinshu” was held at Kinrou Josei Kaikan Shinanoki in Nagano City, Nagano Prefecture. Following the opening remarks by Mr. Takuei Katsuyama, Director of Nagano-ken Yuki Nougyou Kenkyukai, and a talk by Prof. Steven McGreevy, FEAST Project Leader, “Environmentally and economically sustainable Shinshu: Food ...


Presenting Research Outcome on Reevaluation of Peasantry at the 66th General Assembly of the Japanese Association for Rural Studies

Steven McGreevy, FEAST Project Leader, together with Mr. Naoya Matsudaira, our project member, joined “the 66th General Assembly of the Japanese Association for Rural Studies” in Takachiho in Miyazaki Pref. from October 26th to 28th, 2018, at which they had an opportunity to present their research entitled “the international and Japanese trends of reevaluations of peasantry: the similarit...


Presenting Research Outcome on Beekeeping in Japan at Asian Apicultural Association conference 2018

Maximilian Spiegelberg, FEEAST Project researcher, joined “Asian Apicultural Association Conference: Bees, Environment and Sustainability” which took place in Jakarta, Indonesia from Oct 22nd to 25th. This conference brought together researchers, beekeeper, and trader from across Asia. A lot of the sessions focused on natural science aspects and did include all kinds of honeybees present in...


Peer-reviewed paper on new farmers published in Canadian Journal of Development Studies

A peer-reviewed research paper on new farmers “Agrarian pathways for the next generation of Japanese farmers” by Steven McGreevy (Project Leader), Mai Kobayashi (Project Researcher) and Keiko Tanaka (WG3 Member/University of Kentucky) was published in Canadian Journal of Development Studies (Sep 2018). <Abstract> Japanese agriculture and rural communities are in decline and fewer young people a...


Research Papers and Interview Article in Journal of the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture

Three papers and one interview article as WG3 research outputs were published in Journal of the Japanese Institute of Landscape Architecture Vol.81, No.3 (Oct 2017). “Learning from GIAHS Landscapes” Daniel Niles (RIHN) p.260-p.263 “Conserving Local Crop Varieties – Cases from Iwaizumi-cho, Iwate Prefecture and Nanbu-cho, Aomori Prefecture” Ayako Kawi (Australian National University)...


Report on the“International Workshop: Sustainable Development and Commons in East Asia” in RIHN Humanity&Nature Newsletter

On the 11th and 12th of February, the“International Workshop: Sustainable Development and Commons in East Asia” was held in Kyoto, inviting researchers from SSK Research Center on the Commons and Sustainable Society, Jeju National University in Korea and Prof. Margaret Mackean, the inductee of the 9th Earth Hall of Fame Kyoto. With the objective to share history, current situation and chal...


Paper on wild meat utilization published in "Nogyou to Keizai (Agriculture and Economy)"

A special topic on the potential of utilizing gibier (wild meat) was featured in “Nogyou to Keizai (Agriculture and Economy)” Vol. 84, No.6, in which an article “Distribution and consumption of wild meat in Japan: Creating a local food system*” by Norie Tamura (Project Senior Researcher/WG3 Chair) was published. In her article, she pointed out that utilization of wild meat may serve a doubl...


The 1st RIHN/UCB International Workshop (Norie Tamura, Mai Kobayashi, Daniel Niles)

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/Senior Researcher), Mai Kobayashi (Project Researcher) and Daniel Niles (Associate Professor) gave talks on the WG3 research output...


Norie Tamura gave a lecture at NPO Senior Shizen Daigakkou lecture series (2017/08/26)

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 series in 2017 was held on August 26th at which Norie Tamura, WG3 Chair, gave a lecture enti...


GIAHS 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 a part of their everyday life at the international level. Yet, the great...


XVI 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 and Mikitaro Shobayashi “Analyzing differences in how small-scale farming and local commons are viewed...

FM Kushiro Radio Show "Yezo Shika Seminar" on June 21st and 28th, 2017

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/podcast02/...