The first Asian Agricultural Cooperative Conference was held in April 1962 in Tokyo under the sponsorship of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives of Japan. One of the resolutions adopted by this conference was related to the establishment of an institute in Japan for the development of agricultural cooperation in Asia through extending training and research services to those people devoted to cooperative movements in the region. The Institute for the Development of Agricultural Cooperation in Asia was thus established on July 8, 1963, with funds raised among agricultural cooperatives in Japan and also with the support of the Japanese Government.
Ever since, with the president of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives as its president, the Institute has trained overseas agricultural cooperators as part of its international cooperative projects and has assumed the role of a survey and research agency.
The Institute building was named the Hasumi Memorial Hall because, without the efforts of the late Mr. Yasushi Hasumi, then the president of the Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, the Institute would not have materialized.
In August 2017, I was elected the 15th president of JA-ZENCHU, and then I subsequently assumed the post of IDACA President.
IDACA, which is responsible for the international cooperation activities of the JA Group, was established through the valuable efforts of Mr. Yasushi Hasumi, who served as the first president of JA-ZENCHU. IDACA was established in 1963 to serve as a “place to foster solidarity in the international community by providing learning opportunities within the agricultural movement in Japan for leaders engaged in cooperative movements in developing countries.”
IDACA’s history has already exceeded half a century, and the number of participants it has received so far has exceeded 6,300 people. Among the participants of IDACA training courses, there are many people who are serving as leaders of the agricultural cooperative movement, or moreover, actively working as government officials having jurisdiction over the development of cooperatives. As such, the circle of former participants of IDACA training courses has spread to about 130 countries in the world, including Asian countries. In addition, human resources development training programs at IDACA for officials of cooperatives in the world including the Asian region have also received high praise from within and outside Japan.
Currently, the global economy and society are in the current of market fundamentalism, while on the one hand, cooperatives are increasingly gaining recognition in the international community, such as seen in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) registering cooperatives as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage, in November 2016. This means that the cooperative movement that is being promoted all over the world is an important asset for humanity, and that the international community is being asked to inherit and develop this movement. In addition, the role of the cooperative movement is becoming increasingly important in the sense that the economy and society that is based on excessive market principles and competition principles must be corrected to shift to a sustainable society.
Under these circumstances, training of human resources responsible for promoting cooperatives in developing countries is important, and international expectations are placed on the role of IDACA that has a track record spanning more than half a century as a member of the JA Group. Moving forward, IDACA will make further efforts to contribute to the development of the cooperative movement in various countries including those in Asia as well as coexistence with the world through training programs, etc. in collaboration with ICA (International Co-operative Alliance), Japan’s International Cooperation Agency (JICA), etc. so that IDACA training participants will develop into people who understand agriculture and JAs in Japan very well.