Overseas Activities

The Muscat Fund has so far developed the following overseas activities.

Tengkawang Oil

From September 15th to 23rd, 2017, one of the AAI staff went to Indonesia for conducting a field survey on the usage and value-added sales and marketing methods of Dipterocarpaceae trees that produce Tengkawang oil in Kalimantan (Borneo Island). This survey explored the possibility of using and commercializing Tengkawang oil, which is a source of cash income for the residents. Through interviews and observations with the Dayak people, who are the people of the forest, we learned about their livelihoods such as pepper, rubber, slash-and-burn rice farming, and livestock raising, the positional relationship between the villages and the Tengkawang forest, the construction of oil mills by the Dutch. We were able to obtain basic information such as the support project, the relationship between the oil palm plantation and the topography. After that, we focused on developing sales channels for Tengkawang oil in Japan. If we can establish a supply chain for Tengkawang oil, we will be able to secure a source of cash income for residents and preserve the natural forests where Tengkawang grows. In other words, it leads to the improvement of the livelihood of local residents and the conservation of the local environment, which is very consistent with the Muscat Fund's goals.

Reference: AAI News No. 99:  Relaxed but stimulating trip to Kalimantan, Indonesia 

Exploration of Tengkawang trees 

Huge trees of Tengkawang 

Buttress root of Tengkawang

Seeds of Tengkawang 

Activities of ex-participants of Central America

In December 2012, we conducted a survey of the activities by ex-participants of JICA Tsukuba after returning to their home countries including El Salvador and Nicaragua of Central America. Through direct interviews, we learned in detail how they utilize the knowledge and skills obtained during the training in Japan in their daily work. Through this survey, we could feel our mutual understanding and their feeling that they are really loving Japan. All of the ex-participants welcomed our visit as if we were old friends and we were able to confirm that we have a solid relationship of trust each other. The training activity is said to be a "personnel development" project, and we could feel firsthand that the most important thing in "personnel development" is a relationship of trust. We believe that "human resources development" is the foundation of "nation building" in developing countries, and that the basic stance of the Muscat Fund is to engage in activities that contribute to "human resource development".

Reference: AAI News No. 81-84: Activities of ex-participants of Central America

Training scene in Japan

Reunion with trainees

Carrot cultivation

Pepper cultivation

Arabian Gulf Countries Feasibility Study 

Since the Arabian Gulf countries, especially the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman, are very familiar countries to the staff involved in Muscat Fund, a feasibility study was conducted in 2011 to organize candidate activities for the Fund. Specifically, in order to explore possibilities in fields such as plant factories, plant resources, fisheries, training in third countries, and water resources, we conducted site visits and held discussions with relevant parties. A summary of the survey results is as follows.

  • Regarding plant factories, we were able to feel a strong sense of expectation for the hydroponics technology of the government agencies and private companies. However, we got the impression that it would be difficult to connect with the activities of the Muscat Fund, which aims to improve the needs of local residents at the grassroots level.
  • Regarding plant resources, from the perspective of effective use of arid land plants containing special ingredients (Colocynthus, Jojoba, Aloe, etc.), it is possible to proceed with joint research with the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA) in Dubai. We felt that it would lead to grassroots activities in the future. Considering the rapid growth of date palm production, it is also interesting to see the development of activities with date palm as a keyword.
  • In the field of fisheries, an aquaponics project was launched to combine tilapia farming and hydroponics to make effective use of water resources. We felt that continuing to be involved in these activities in some form may lead to grassroots activities in the future.
  • With regard to third country training, we held discussions with relevant parties to consider the possibility of third country training for water-saving irrigation technology projects in Syria, but we could not find a suitable organization for the training.
  • Concerning water resources, we felt that there is a possibility of grassroots activities to effectively use the water resources obtained from mist catchers for planting trees and local communities.
  • In addition, we felt that small-scale mangrove planting and charcoal burning activities that make effective use of invading vegetation such as mesquite may lead to grassroots activities in the future.

Reference 1: AAI News 73-106: Facts about dry land vegetation
Reference 2: AAI News 43-48: Lessons learned from mangrove ecosystems

Greenhouse for hydroponics

Citrullus colocynthis

Date palm cultivation

Products from date palm leaves

Aquaponics site

Mist chatcher

Mangrove forestation

Invading mesquite


One of the AAI staff was given the opportunity to participate in the Study on Small Scale Agricultural and Rural Development Program along the Mekong River in 1998-2000. In this study, a friendly relationship with the staff of the Participatory Development Training Center (PADETC), a local training institution, was nurtured through the development of a support system for farmers and the study methods for formulating development plans using participatory methods. Initially, PADETC aimed at rural development through sustainable agriculture, but in recent years it has focused on practical training as capacity building for those involved. Main activities include food production, resource management, income improvement, development of teaching materials and training methods, and training of young leaders involved in sustainable development. In the future, by deepening exchanges with PADETC, we would like to build a cooperative relationship and jointly participate in activities at the field level. 

Reference: AAI News 41: Grassroots Collaboration Part-5 Our activities in Laos

Organic mulberry field

Organic products lunch

Mulberry tea production

Dyeing and weaving


Since 1995, AAI has maintained a close relationship with Oman through development studies and expert dispatch in the agricultural development projects in Nejid region and mangrove afforestation projects. The mountainous region of Dhofar State in the southern part of the country is covered with rich natural vegetation due to the influence of monsoons from the Indian Ocean, even though it is located in the Arabian Peninsula. In recent years, however, the vegetation has been gradually deteriorating due to overgrazing and other factors. It is believed that the deterioration of vegetation in such mountainous areas has adversely affected the growth of mangrove forests in coastal areas. Therefore, in order to promote information exchanges in a form linked to the activities of local residents for promoting environmental conservation and vegetation restoration in this mountainous area, activities by the Muscat Fund, such as placing local liaisons, were started. 

Reference: AAI News 40: Grassroots Collaboration Part-4 Our activities in Oman

Concept for support

Training on 


Support for handicapped

Mountain area in dry season



From 1994 to 1997, a staff member of AAI was dispatched as a JICA long-term expert to the Agricultural Extension Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, Syria. Here, as a part of assignment, a database was created through information collection on useful plant resources, mainly medicinal plants, and local useful techniques, together with the local counterparts. In addition, other AAI staff was dispatched to the training department of the Ministry from 1999 to 2001. During that time, in the course of interacting with other long-term experts and JOCVs working in Syria, we had the opportunity to discuss various issues such as concerns, complaints, and improvements for the future as we work in the same field of international cooperation. Under such circumstances, the "ODA Study Group" was organized as a group of volunteers, and activities aimed at "self-help efforts and support" and "coordination" between experts and JOCVs began. Through these activities, we are trying to think about the meaning of "participatory development" and "grassroots cooperation" in the context of Syrian situation and explore how community-based activities should be developed. 

Reference 1: AAI News 32: Horticultural Therapy in Syria
Reference 2: AAI News 39: Grassroots Collaboration Part-3 Our activities in Syria

Plate preparation

Compost/fertilizer application


Member gathering


A staff of AAI participated in the Master Plan Study on the Lower Munyati Basin Agricultural Development in Zimbabwe from 1994 to 1995, and with this as an opportunity, exchanges with Zimbabwe began through interactions with counterparts. As a concrete activity by the Muscat Fund, first of all, in Japan, we conducted a "survey on the activities of local NGOs limited to the English-speaking and African regions and data collection". Taking into consideration the exchanges we had had so far, we decided that Zimbabwe would be the target country for our activities. Next, we conducted a field survey to select local NGOs with which we can cooperate in the future. In the selection process, we focused on the following points with keywords such as resident participation, appropriate technology, appropriate scale, and sustainability. 


  • The activity content and target area should be such that we can make the most of our experience so far. 
  • Implementing agriculture and rural development and aiming for activities rooted in the region. 
  • Emphasis on sustainability, environmental conservation, resident participation, etc., and actually working on the ground. 


After reviewing the Zimbabwean NGO database created based on the results of the field survey, we selected NGOs suitable as partners and started activities with the Muscat Fund. As part of our activities, we also collected information related to the mechanism of support for NGOs by domestic and foreign aid agencies, as well as funding agencies and systems. Selected NGO has requested a total of 261 US$ for necessary funds to enhance the Seed Loan Program for group gardens. Based on past achievements, we felt that this small capital increase would be used effectively by this NGO and we decided to apply Muscat Fund to support their activity. Although it was a very small amount of 261 US$, reports on loan results were continuously submitted for the next 10 years and we believe that we were able to make an extremely large contribution to the self-reliance of the group members. This activity has become a typical activity of the Muscat Fund, and as described in the home page, it has been featured in the International Development Journal. 

Reference 1: AAI News 36: Collaboration with local NGOs in Zimbabwe (1)
Reference 2: AAI News 38: Collaboration with local NGOs in Zimbabwe (2)
Reference 3: AAI News 49: International Cooperation Possible with US$ 261 

Water harvesting

Dam construction 

Group garden

Group meeting