Video Report:September 25, 2008【NIIGATA CITY Press Tour (Farmers pioneer new directions of Japanese farming)】
post date : 2013.08.27
Niigata, “the Home of Rice” has 63% food self-sufficiency – Steps towards food and energy security
〜Rice Flour Production and Consumption, and Bio Ethanol from Rice Plants〜
■Safety and security for consumers - Niigata farmers pioneer new directions of Japanese farming(September 25, 2008)
Kitsu Mizuho Farming Corporation
While the number of the farming corporations in Japan reached 9460 last year, the total in Niigata City comes to 122 at present. “The key to achieving 50% food self-sufficiency, the goal currently set by the Central Government, is to succeed in creating a system of agriculture through farming corporations”, says Jitsuro Terashima, President, The Japan Research Institute.
Kitsu Mizuo Farming Corporation was established by neighboring farmers in former Yokokoshi in 1986. Under the motto: safety, security, reasonable price, stable supply, they work hard to produce delicious rice and sell it directly to the consumers. In 2005, they started growing and selling organic rice, and recently exported rice to Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as pears to Russia.
Mr. Toshiyuki Tsubotani, representative
Niigata is devoted to rice paddies in its land area. We have water and soil that are suitable for growing Koshihikari rice, the most delicious rice in Japan.
We used to work as self-employed farmers and got together to launch this farming corporation 22 years ago, with the aim of expanding our farmland and selling our produce.
Rice production adjustment is a problem for farmers in Japan. That was our headache, but fortunately our rice has started to sell well in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
What we sell outside Japan is included in the frame of production adjustment. This is an advantage for our sales.
It is getting difficult for us to sell our rice domestically. So, as an option, we export rice overseas.
While we have rice production adjustment and face the serious fall of rice consumption in Japan, we are obliged to import rice under the MA (minimum access) system, that is the government has to import certain amount of rice from overseas.
We don’t want to be just passive, but positive or even rather aggressive in our business. That is why we started to export rice.
We expect to have better feedback from overseas where our rice is appreciated.
We hope it will be an eye opener for Japanese people to appreciate Japanese rice which sells well overseas. Then many consumers will start purchasing rice.
(Impact of climate change)
Even if we pour all the water as we have into desert sands, we cannot produce delicious Koshihikari rice.
Water and soil are much more important for rice farming than climate.
In particular, water is a lifeline for such rice in Niigata as Koshihikari, as it needs wet-rice cultivation.
I believe firmly that thanks to our rich water resources brought by the heavy snow in winter, and the Shinano and Agano Rivers, we are able to produce delicious Koshihikari rice.
Morohashi Yajiro Farm
Mr. and Mrs. Morohashi run their farm, together with seven local employees. Based on their motto, to develop mutual trust between growers and consumers, they grow and sell organic rice, vegetables and fruits.
The main house of his residence, which is designated as a national tangible cultural property, is a restaurant named “Yajiro” serving slow food prepared with the fresh rice and vegetables harvested on the farm.
Mr. Yasue Morohashi, Owner
When I was in my 30’s I had a dream to expand the scale of my farm. One day I would employ people, and grow, process, and sell my own produce with my employees.
My dream came true when I was 57, just 10 years ago.
Currently food safety is the biggest problem in Japan.
I would say that farmers should consider the safety and quality of food and the health of consumers and work hard to be trusted by consumers through their products.
Since the Chinese dumpling scandal came to light, many consumers purchase agricultural products that are locally produced in their region. This is the result of it.