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Sekiya N.,Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA | Araki H.,Yamaguchi University | Yano K.,Nagoya University
Plant and Soil | Year: 2011

When a plant encounters spatially heterogeneous soil moisture within its root system, usually drier surface and moister subsurface soils, water can move between these layers through the root system, a plant process known as hydraulic lift or redistribution. The water thus transferred is available not only for the plant itself but also for its neighbors. We examined application of this process as a possible biological irrigation tool. As 'donors', we used perennial forage plants with their shoots removed to minimize the effect of light-interception by them on the 'receiver' plants growing alongside them. In a horizontally split-root experiment, where an upper container was filled with sand and a lower one with water, superior donor species could maintain the upper sand in a fully hydrated condition for several weeks, increasing stomatal conductance in the receivers. The effects were also confirmed in a water-limited agricultural field, as significant differences were found in canopy temperature and yield in neighboring crop plants in the presence or absence of donor root systems. These results suggest that deep-rooting associate plants with their shoots removed function as an irrigation tool and improve crop production in water-scarce environments. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. Source

Nakamura H.,Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA | Ikeda N.,University of Tokyo | Stickley A.,University of Tokyo | Stickley A.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2011

Background: Recent analyses have suggested an accelerated decline in child mortality in Ghana since 2000. This study examines the long-term child mortality trends in the country, relates them to changes in the key drivers of mortality decline, and assesses the feasibility of the country's MDG 4 attainment. Methodology: Data from five Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) between 1988 and 2008 and the Maternal Health Survey 2007 were used to generate two-year estimates of under-five mortality rates back to 1967. Lowess regression fitted past and future trends towards 2015. A modified Poisson approach was applied on the person-period data created from the DHS 2003 and 2008 to examine determinants of under-five mortality and their contributions to the change in mortality. A policy-modelling system assessed the feasibility of the country's MDG 4 attainment. Findings: The under-five mortality rate has steadily declined over the past 40 years with acceleration since 2000, and is projected to reach between 45 and 69 per 1000 live births in 2015. Preceding birth interval (reference: 36+ months, relative risk [RR] increased as the interval shortened), bed net use (RR 0.71, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.52-0.95), maternal education (reference: secondary/higher, RR 1.71, 95% CI: 1.18-2.47 for primary), and maternal age at birth (reference: 17+ years, RR 2.13, 95% CI: 1.12-4.05) were primarily associated with under-five mortality. Increased bed-net use made a substantial contribution to the mortality decline. The scale-up of key interventions will allow the possibility of Ghana's MDG 4 attainment. Conclusions: National and global efforts for scaling up key child survival interventions in Ghana are paying off - these concerted efforts need to be sustained in order to achieve MDG 4. © 2011 Nakamura et al. Source

Saito K.,Africa Rice Center | Sokei Y.,Africa Rice Center | Sokei Y.,Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA | Wopereis M.C.S.,Africa Rice Center
Crop Science | Year: 2012

Rice yields have stagnated in West Africa at 1 to 2 Mg ha -1 because of unfavorable rice environments and poor management practices. Interspecific rice cultivars, the New Rice for Africa (NERICA), were developed by crossing Asian rice (Oryza sativa L.) and African rice (O. glaberrima Steud.) to improve upland and lowland rice productivity in resource-poor farmers' fields. This paper provides an overview of recent studies, performed by the Africa Rice Center and its partners, on evaluation of growth and yield performance of upland and lowland NERICA cultivars and modern Asian rice cultivars including the improved upland indica cultivars often termed aerobic rice. Upland NERICA cultivars were found to lack the expected combination of superior yield potential with weed suppressive ability (WSA) and adaptation to low soil fertility, instead sharing similarity in these characteristics with their O. sativa parent WAB56-104 but remaining inferior to their O. glaberrima parent CG 14 in terms of tillering ability and WSA. Some aerobic rice cultivars were identified for high yielding ability, strong WSA, and superior adaptation to low-fertility uplands and waterlimited lowlands. Some lowland NERICA cultivars outyielded improved lowland O. sativa checks and aerobic rice cultivars in favorable lowlands, whereas they did not perform well in water-limited lowlands. The implications of these findings for future challenges for genetic improvement in West Africa are discussed. © Crop Science Society of America. Source

Hagiwara A.,Japan International Cooperation Agency JICA | Ueyama M.,Ryukoku University | Ramlawi A.,Ministry of Health | Sawada Y.,University of Tokyo
Journal of Public Health Policy | Year: 2013

Objective: This study examines the effect of the Maternal and Child Health (MCH) handbook - a home-based health record - on women's knowledge and behavior in the Jericho and Ramallah Governorates of Palestine. Methods: This study uses a repeated, cross-sectional data set in which pre- and post-intervention situations are incorporated on two groups: those exposed and those not exposed to the MCH handbook. We employed a difference-in-difference regression analysis utilizing a pre-tested knowledge, attitude, and practice survey of women at 24 MCH 'treatment' centers (N=260, 270, pre-/post-) in comparison with the women at 6 MCH centers (N=70, 70, pre-/post-) where the MCH handbook was not released. A trained facilitator conducted a series of focus group discussions with 42 women who were the clients of MCH services and 25 health providers, both from the intervention area, to confirm the results obtained from the quantitative study. Findings: Knowledge related to MCH such as the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and how to cope with the risks of rupture of membranes during pregnancy increased among MCH handbook users, especially among less-educated women. The MCH handbook may be an effective tool for communication with health providers and husbands, for both highly educated and less-educated women during their first pregnancy. Our results suggest that although less-educated women rarely read the handbook themselves at home, they became familiar with health information and options related to MCH through personalized guidance that was provided by health providers at health facilities utilizing MCH handbook. Conclusion: The MCH handbook may be an effective tool to improve (i) communication between the client and the health provider and (ii) women's knowledge- and health-seeking behaviors related to maternal, newborn, and child health. © 2013 Macmillan Publishers Ltd. Source

The Japanese government announced commitment to African growth including support for the OVOP movement, which originated in Oita Prefecture, at TICAD (Tokyo International Conference on African Development) VI in 2008. At present, twelve African countries including Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi are expanding the OVOP movement. The Thai government introduced the OVOP movement and scaled it up to a One Tambon One Product (OTOP) movement, strongly guided by government initiative. In this paper, we examine the impacts of the movement in the Northeast provinces of Thailand. OTOP encourages cottage producers through integration of power from all related government agencies. The movement was started by government initiatives, but gradually brought the concept of "self reliance" to the village people. In addition, OTOP has provided an "OTOP five star logo" so products gain new markets. The authors conducted field surveys in Northeast Thailand to understand the effectiveness of the movement. This paper presents the survey results with the specific data and interview responses from the OTOP producers. Finally, we identified some important factors in the movement. Simple regression analysis revealed a strong correlation between OTOP income level, member's age, car ownership and strong leadership. However, no significant relationships between income and education level or motivation of participation were observed. These findings are indispensable as policy implications for the African OVOP movement. Source

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