Dean Kazuya Akimitsu

Thank you for visiting the website of the Faculty of Agriculture of Kagawa University. The Faculty of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture can be a place for learning comprehensive sciences and you can study various scientific fields, such as applied life sciences, biological production sciences, environmental sciences, resource chemistry sciences, food science and more. The Faculty of Agriculture tackles the major contemporary issues of food, environment, and life science head-on while aiming for the fusion of humans and nature based on the elucidation of scientific life phenomena.

The Faculty of Agriculture has been active for almost 120 years, since the establishment of its predecessor in Miki town, Kagawa Prefecture. Research activities with both national and international collaborations are disseminated to the world and strengthen practical application, which in turn supports and responds to the needs of the region. We continue to endeavor to produce and develop excellent human resources who will contribute to society throughout their lives, as have their predecessors.

From our long history, I would like to introduce some of the recent strengths and accomplishments of the Faculty of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture. The Faculty of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture are characterized by the fact that the results of basic research are not limited to the laboratory, but consistently lead to practical applications. For example, the Kagawa University brand wine Sovajone Savrouse is produced by a new grape variety, Kadai-Nou R-1 (Kagawa University Faculty of Agriculture R-1), which was developed in our faculty by crossing a wild grape with the Muscat of Alexandria. Currently, about 7,000 bottles of the red wine are produced annually by a local winery. This wine has 2-3 times more polyphenols than typical red wines. It is further charactered by its attractive, strong red color that remains true even after pouring into a wine glass and Sovajone Savrouse has become a popular wine.

Another example of breeding research is a Kiwifruit new cultivar, Sanuki Kiwicco®. Kiwifruit was introduced to Japan in early 1970s, and a breeding program was actively promoted immediately after its introduction in Kagawa Prefecture. In this effort, the Faculty of Agriculture and Kagawa Prefecture targeted the development of new varieties that would have resistance to diseases and have a good taste, and so, Sanuki Kiwicco® was born. Sanuki Kiwicco® is a small and bite-sized fruit. You can easily split it in half with your fingers, extrude the pulp, and then eat it like jelly. It has high sugar content and a good acidic balance. The activities of the proteolytic enzymes, which cause unfavorable taste, are extremely low. Every year since its registration as a new kiwifruit variety in 2014, Sanuki Kiwicco® has been increasing in popularity in the fruit market.

The development of rare sugar production has been a big success for not only the Faculty of Agriculture, but also for Kagawa University. Rare sugars are defined by the International Society of Rare Sugars, which is headquartered at Kagawa University, as “monosaccharides and derivatives that exist only in trace amounts in nature”. To proceed with research on monosaccharides that exist only in such small amounts, it is first necessary to produce them in large quantities.

Professor Emeritus Ken Izumori of our faculty discovered a new enzyme from one microorganism isolated from the campus of the Faculty of Agriculture. The new enzyme was found to produce the rare sugar D allulose (also called D-psicose) from D-fructose. Further research was carried out, and the production of the approximately 50 different types of rare sugars and their derivatives began with the construction of Izumoring, a production strategy paradigm for all monosaccharides including rare sugars.

Today, a quarter of a century after the discovery of the new enzyme, a wealth of academic knowledge has opened the way for industrial use, and rare sugars use has increased to over 3,000 food items since the launch of the first rare sugar product, a syrup type sweetener, in 2014. The world’s first mass-production of D allulose at a Mexican factory dedicated to rare sugars was completed by our industrial collaborators in 2019 in anticipation of a global expansion of rare sugar usage. Rare sugars are increasingly being sold in North America and Japan and are drawing considerable attention from home and abroad. Nowadays, more than 70 professors from all the faculties of Kagawa University participate in various types of rare sugar basic research, and development for application continues to be promoted in various research fields along with production research. Rare sugar research has become a major engine that drives university research.

Internationalization is spreading not only in rare sugar research, but also in various research and education fields. The Faculty of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture have signed collaboration agreements with universities around the world, and are actively accepting international students, dispatching Japanese students, and interacting with researchers. It is a very important experience to encounter different cultures to be able contribute as a member of the international community in the future. You can quickly learn that you can share similar worries and joys even if you have different cultures and languages especially when you are young, impressionable, and adaptable. In addition, we offer various international education programs for both undergraduate and graduate schools. We have various advanced international education programs that are rare in Japan, such as a program for accepting international students in collaboration with private companies in the food science field and student exchange through a consortium with universities in Japan and overseas.

I have introduced some of the special features of the Faculty of Agriculture and Graduate School of Agriculture, Kagawa University, such as the cultivation of new varieties of wine grape and kiwifruit, a global expansion of research and business on rare sugars, and advanced international education. However, there are many other study programs and research topics in our faculty. Please come and see how the calm and cheerful students, the faculty members, and the clerical staffs of the Faculty of Agriculture and the Graduate School of Agriculture are united. For all of you that wish to enroll, parents, the local and international communities, as well as related companies, you can understand our Faculty of Agriculture as a learning center and you can feel and share our spirit, and commitment to excellence that continues to flow from our 120-year history into the future.

Professor Kazuya Akimitsu, PhD
Faculty of Agriculture
Graduate School of Agriculture
Kagawa University

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