MIYAZAKI: Miyazaki Prefecture is not only known for its beauty, water, organic farming and tourist spots, it is the area where Ishihara Frozen foods built its reputation on high quality fruit and vegetable products. From 1976 when first established as a seller of local produce by Kazuaki Ishihara, to 1983 when they first started their frozen food supply and to the present day where technology unites business management with farming the land.
The goal of the company was always to provide Japan with a stable food supply but the hard and dirty physical labor was uninviting to the children of aging farm workers. Agriculture began to suffer until roughly 20 years ago, the company introduced digital management of 500 hectares in 750 locations to maintain their supply.
Smart phones have become a vital element in the progress of Ishihara Foods – every record including work records, growth conditions and amounts of agrochemicals used, are now managed digitally. YOSHIKAWA Kouichi, who developed the systems from scratch also explained how they use the internet and online cameras to assist in the operation of the business.
ISHIHARA Shoko took over the family business 2 years ago and it is her determination to make agricultural work less of a physical burden. As a former social worker, and with experience of the impact of tragedy and loss on people, she knew that employment was the solution to a lack of welfare support. To attract a diminishing supply of workers she has initiated the use of fully-automated tractors with air conditioning and customized harvesters.
Ms Ishihara also acknowledged the support of elderly locals as well as international workers, particularly technical intern trainees from China and Indonesia. In response to a query, she said that traditional farming considered men and women equal but her challenge had been to combine smaller farming lots into merged land as landowners in Japan tend to be protective of ownership and incommunicative with each other.
Ishihara frozen foods has become a landmark for efficiency, excellence and quality from cameras in the fields to show growth, lab testing of levels of nitrogen in the soil to strict testing according to government guidelines of any potential agrochemical residue . She said, “we are committed to improving a quality and stable food supply for all Japan as well as, providing local employment opportunities and continue to look for ways to improve the lives of all agricultural workers throughout the country.”