A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
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Without public aid there can be no agriculture or farmers



Matthieu Freulon, Frédéric Hénin


Article published in Terre-net Magazine



As the Japanese farmer Shinobu Oono is faced with a lack of land, he relies on high added-value crops; he also receives significant public aid. The objective of this aid: to ensure the country’s food security with numerous farmers. The only economic power making cutbacks is the European Union!

Though Japan is the world’s third largest economy, it has little arable land, less than 15% of the country (55,000 km²) to feed its population estimated at over 127 million people in 2012. Better known for its technological know-how than for its agriculture, its food self-sufficiency rate does not exceed 40%. The country of the Rising Sun is also the world's largest importer of food products.

In the north, near Obihiro on the island of Hokkaido, Shinobu Oono exploits just over 30 ha with his parents: 9 ha of wheat, 7 ha of green onion, 5.3 ha of corn, 4 ha of potatoes, 3.5 ha of Chinese yam (tuber) and 2.5 ha of beans. This size farm is in the country’s top averages.

Caution, Japanese agriculture should not be seen as archaic. With its new tractors and buildings that have nothing to envy of those found in France, Shinobu’s farm is modern and intensive.


A STRONG ATTACHMENT TO THE LAND

In Japan, as with all other activities, agriculture is faced with a major problem, a lack of land, accentuated by urban pressure. “The greatest wealth is land” says the farmer. Expansion is not easy, especially as their attachment to the land is very important. And the prices are incommensurate with those of the French market: five to six million yen per hectare (38,000 to 46,000 €).

It is better to opt for high value-added crops! The farm’s most profitable crop is a tuber called the Chinese Yam. “But it is also one of the most difficult to produce,” said the farmer. Yields are 30-40 t/ha for the price of 1,244€/t.

With wheat and potato however, Shinobu harvests respectively 70 q/ha and 40-50 t/ha on average, for 385 €/t and 231 €/t. Thus, the farm’s overall turnover varies annually from 50 to 60 million yen (385,000 to 463,000 €), an average of more than 14,000 €/ha.


THE 3RD MOST ASSISTED AGRICULTURE IN THE WORLD

These are admittedly remunerative prices, but let us not forget that Japanese agriculture is also one of the most aided in the world: the Japanese government paid nearly 44 billion euros in agricultural subsidies in 2012 (estimates Oecd). Still according to the organization, the level of aid for the sector exceeded 51% in 2011, which placed Japan as number 3 on the list of largest countries in the world that help their agriculture the most, behind Norway (60%) and Switzerland (56% ). Specifically, the aid is granted per hectare, which favours large structures. Shinobu Oono currently receives 200,000 yen per hectare (just over 1,500€). “An amount that may change after the next change of government,” says the farmer.

The Japanese government also sometimes help to finance the mechanization of farms. The last example was in 2009: the State granted farmers who invested aid amounting to 50% of the purchase price of their tractors. Diesel is also more affordable in Japan, to run these machines it takes on average 120€ per 1,000 l.

Ultimately, Shinobu Oono is “happy with his situation.” An opinion shared by Mr. Masuchi, another farmer who works with his parents on 75 ha, about fifty kilometres from the Shinobu farm. Both, like most Japanese farmers hope their children will join the local agricultural school and also become farmers.


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Paris, 10 December 2018