How to Revitalize Japanese Agriculture

Author Name YAMASHITA Kazuhito  (Senior Fellow, RIETI)
Creation Date/NO. April 2015 15-P-006
Research Project Agricultural Policy Reform Aimed at Competitive Agriculture in the Age of Globalization and Decreasing Population
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Agriculture differs from manufacturing in that leveling the workload is difficult as it deals with animals and plants. We can overcome such difficulties by taking advantage of the Japanese landscape which stretches from south to north with differing altitudes and allows different peak workloads of agriculture among farmlands. We can organize the farmers in these areas and dispatch workers or lease machines for peak workloads such that the workload of farmers as a whole can be leveled. The government should encourage full-time farmers to establish cooperatives for this purpose, replacing the current agricultural cooperatives whose members include many part-time farmers and non-farmers.

The government has long encouraged farmers to specialize in a single function with an aim to enhance their productivity. Thus, only 5% of Japanese farmers engage in mixed farming. Instead, promoting mixed farming should be done in order to fully utilize small land, level the workload, and allow farming to become more environmentally friendly.

Recently, new technologies such as global positioning system (GPS), sensors, robots, and computers have been utilized in agriculture. The government should make active and positive contributions to the development of basic technologies. It would be more efficient and useful for enhancing the level of productivity of the Japanese agricultural industry if the government constructs big data as a public good by combining the efforts of individual enterprises.