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Japan’s international aid took a back seat in 2011 as the nation was besieged by natural and man-made disasters, a historically strong yen and political turmoil that unseated yet another prime minister.

In April, Tokyo was forced to trim about 10 percent from its large official development assistance budget and spend the ¥50 billion on reconstruction efforts. But one field in which ODA managed to make progress and gain international recognition was Japan’s innovative approach to developing arid land and boosting crop production in Africa.

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