Japan speeds up TPP decision-making process, unveils plan to back farmers

The government is trying to accelerate its decision on whether to join multilateral negotiations for a Pacific-wide trade pact while compiling a package to support the nation’s farmers, who fear being inundated by cheap imports if Japan decides to enter the pact.

The United States and South Korea finalized a free-trade accord earlier this month, putting additional pressure on Japan to open its markets by joining the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and supporting its he flagging economy by expanding exports.

High-level international economic partnerships should be "consistent" with revitalizing Japanese agriculture, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thursday.

Read the rest of the story: Japan speeds up TPP decision-making process, unveils plan to back farmers.

Small Vegetable Plant for Use in Restaurants

Dentsu Facility Management Inc will start taking orders for the "Chef’s Farm," a small vegetable plant that can be installed in, for example, a restaurant, in June 2010.

The vegetable plant, which will be released in the summer of 2010 in Japan, was exhibited at International Food Machinery & Technology Exhibition 2010 (FOOMA JAPAN 2010), which took place from June 8 to 11, 2010, in Tokyo. It is priced at about ¥8.3 million (approx US$90,552). Dentsu Facility Management claims that it is possible to harvest 60 heads of lettuce per day (20,000 per year) and recoup the investment in about five years.

The Chef’s Farm comes with five nutriculture beds, each of which is 2,750mm in width and 1,270mm in depth. Each bed is installed with long and thin metal frames on which lettuce seeds can be planted in sponges (one piece of sponge for a seed).

Read the rest of the story: Small Vegetable Plant to Debut for Use in Restaurants.

Japanese agriculture is in a free-fall decline.

Japanese agriculture is in a free-fall decline. In the years between 1960 and 2005, the share of agricultural output in gross domestic product (GDP) dropped from 9% to 1%, the food self-sufficiency ratio from 79% to 41%, and agricultural land, indispensable for food security, from 6.09 million hectares to 4.63 million hectares.

Meanwhile, the ratio of part-time farm households, which derive more than half their income from non-farm employment, increased from 32.1% to 61.7%. The percentage of farmers over 65 years old also jumped from 10% to 60%. Gross agricultural output in 2006 was 8.5 trillion yen (US$93.4 billion), less than the sales volume of Panasonic, which stood at 9.1 trillion yen in the same year.

Read the rest of the story: High rice prices feed Japan’s farming woes

Photo by kayakaya