JICA Innovation Quest, which started in Japan in 2019, is an open innovation contest to create innovative ideas for international cooperation that are not bound by conventional frameworks.

JICA Tajikistan Office says participants with diverse backgrounds including JICA staff from small teams (around six people) to create ideas that contribute to solving problems in developing countries.  The Tajikistan team with the simple but innovative idea won the contest and got the fund to pursue the idea.

The Tajikistan Team had reportedly focused on the increasing of Non-Communicable Diseases such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes which have been amongst the top causes of death in Tajikistan, and the rise in the number of people with high blood pressure and obesity.  Also came to know that Tajikistan people consume a lot of oil in the traditional and commonly eaten meal “Osh” which uses a lot of oil.  The team first considered how this oily Osh can be cooked less-oily by changing ingredients but the traditional food that has more than 1000 years of history could not be changed and therefore the Team came up with this idea of removing the oil through the plate.

The functional feature of the new plate is that it consists of two parts, in the first main plate the bottom has small holes for settling and further withdrawal of oil into another smaller plate.  Thus, the oil settles in the middle of the plate and joins lower on the second plate, making oil rich dish less greasy and lighter.

In this regards, on June 18, 2022, a Workshop to test the plates and get feedbacks of the stakeholders and further promote the idea was held in a Dushanbe.  The workshop was attended by representatives of the Tourism Committee, State Research Institute of Nutrition, Union of craftsmanship, restaurant, and café owners, and WHO.

Chief Representative of JICA Tajikistan Office, Mr. Takasaka Muneo, in his opening speech stated that JICA Innovation Quest Team Tajikistan members came up with a simple but innovative idea.  Hope that through the promotion of oil cut plates, awareness of the high consumption of oil is realized and it contributes to making a healthy food culture in Tajikistan.

After some introduction from the JICA Innovation Quest Team, attendees tried out the oil removing plate. The participants shared comments, and feedbacks about the plate, such as “the concept of this plate is really good and can raise awareness of people towards nutrition and health”, “was surprised to see how much oil is included in Osh”, “The design should be changed to be able to eat easier.”

In the closing session, Professor Jahon Azonov from the State Research Institute of Nutrition mentioned why too much oil consumption is not good for the health and this plate can be an interesting suggestion.

After conducting a research, it came to know that some of the younger generations, especially those living in cities, might not prefer to consume oil much. Some tip the end of the plate by placing a napkin under the end of the plate so they can avoid the oil. The team came to know that there are some potential customers.  A prototype plate made in Japan and Tajikistan was able to extract 20 ml of oil from 2 served Osh plates, and some research found potential users such as people with an interest in beauty, health, and sports.

The JICA Innovation Team mission came to Tajikistan for: 1) upgrading the design of Oil cut plates based on the feedbacks: 2) finding partners for future promotion of idea; and 3) raise awareness of healthy lifestyle by conducting the workshop and discussion about oil consumption by visualizing how much oil can be extracted through “oil cut plate”.

The JICA Innovation Quest team partnering with agencies and craftsman from Tajikistan will utilize this plate to increase the healthy lifestyle in Tajikistan. They will continuously work on the promotion of the oil cut plate with better design.

JICA began its technical cooperation with Tajikistan in 1993 by inviting Tajik officials to gain knowledge and experience on governance and macroeconomics development. As of March 2020, a total number of participants to JICA’s Knowledge Co-Creation Programs, formerly called the Training Programs, has exceeded 2380 people. JICA Office was established in 2006 in Tajikistan and since then various Grant Financial Assistance and Technical Cooperation projects have been implemented more dynamically, aiming at improving living standard of Tajik people for the sectors such as agriculture and rural development, water supply, health, transport, energy, capacity building as well as SME promotion. JICA’s cumulative investment portfolio in Tajikistan in all sectors comprises 44 projects amounting to more than 418.5 million U.S. dollars (94.66 million U.S. dollars for Technical Cooperation and 324 million U.S. dollars for Grant Assistance), including 14 ongoing projects.