TOKYO: The Japanese agriculture ministry hopes to accelerate the spread of organic farming in Japan by establishing new subsidies for local governments, officials have said.
The ministry hopes to spread organic farming and environmentally friendly agricultural technologies to realize sustainable agriculture through regional cooperation among producers, local retailers and researchers led by local governments.
In its budget request for fiscal 2022, the ministry included the new subsidies for supporting each region that will work to reduce the agricultural sector’s burdens on the environment.
In line with the government’s target of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions to effectively zero by 2050 to create a carbon-free society, the ministry has compiled a new strategy covering the procurement, production and consumption phases of the sector.
The strategy calls for increasing the share of farmland for organic farming to 1 million hectares, or 25 pct of Japan’s total land under cultivation, by 2050. In fiscal 2018, the share was 0.5 pct.
Globally, farmland used for organic farming totaled 71.5 million hectares in 2018, about twice the level in 2008. In Japan, the size of expansion was far smaller, registering a rise of 45.4 pct from fiscal 2009 to 23,700 hectares in fiscal 2018.
Organic farming showed the slow expansion in Japan, because farming that does not involve synthesized fertilizers and agricultural chemicals requires substantial effort while crops and the quality of produce are unstable, ministry officials said.
In order to achieve the 1-million-hectare organic farming target, “it is necessary to disseminate existing technologies at blistering speed,” an official said.
The ministry therefore moved to switch from depending on voluntary efforts by producers to facilitating community-wide support in selected areas.
It hopes to lower the hurdles for shifting to agriculture with a smaller burden on the environment by helping build human resources for organic farming, increasing the use of such crops for school meals and making organic farming more popular with local residents.