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Japan: Japan Agriculture Profile 2012

2012/03/14

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Japan Agriculture Profile 2012

Reference Date: 30-May-2011

 

Japan was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 on its east coast causing a heavy death toll and an enormous devastation. The subsequent nuclear crisis with significant radioactivity has affected food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries sectors in the five prefectures (Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki and Iwate) located on the eastern part of central Japan. The Government is carrying out damage assessments but no concrete estimates of the impact of this natural disaster for the agricultural production and food trade. However, it could be considerable as the region that suffered the most is well known for paddy cultivation and for dairy and other livestock production. The loss of fishermen and fishing equipment could also result in a significant decline in fish production. According to the World Bank the preliminary economic damage estimates, reported early April 2011, will range from USD 122 and 235 billion or roughly 2.5 to 4 percent of its GDP.

 

The main staple crop in Japan, paddy rice is planted in April-May and harvested in September to November. The average paddy production for last five years (2006-2010) has been about 10.76 million tonnes (equivalent to 7.8 million tonnes of milled rice). Very small amount, about 600 000 to 700 000 tonnes of rice is imported annually. The winter season wheat crop is sown in September-November and harvested during June-August. Production averages around 830 000 tonnes with large amounts of imports of over 5 million tonnes in last five years. The country does not produce but is a major importer of maize (16.5 million tonnes).

Japan has almost no arable land, but gives the three-quarters of the food necessary for Japan. Only about 12% of the land area used for agriculture, the rest is too mountainous. In many parts of the terraced mountain slopes are common.
Agriculture is very intensive in Japan. The cultures were carefully planted, grown, harvested and obtain maximum results. Lot of manual work, large quantities of fertilizer and a variety of small machines are used. As a result of these various factors, crop yields and total agricultural production is high. Also contributed to the country's total production is the long growing season in the south, allowing two crops to be grown each successive year.
The farms are small. Most collection includes scattered, small parcels, totaling 2 1 / 2 acres (1 hectare) or less. Almost all farms are privately owned, partly because of land reforms in post-war that allowed farmers to purchase the land they worked. A large majority of farmers supplement their income by working part time in another profession.
About half of the farmland is planted in rice, the main crop and a traditional food of Japan. Normally, a surplus of rice is produced. Barley, wheat, and several other cereals are grown but not in large quantities. Other crops include potatoes, sweet potatoes, soybeans, tea and tobacco. Oranges, apples, peaches, pears and most fruits are produced in large quantities. The raising of silkworms is a specialty of some Japanese farmers.
The livestock industry, which is low but increasing due to growing demand for meat and dairy products, is mainly limited by the low amount of farmland and the need to produce crops for human consumption.

Fishing, Forestry
For many years Japan has been one of the world's fishing nations foremost. Fish is the main food of the nation protein. surrounding waters, especially in the Pacific, where heat and cold Kuroshio Oyashio currents meet, are among the best fishing grounds in the world. The catch is taken by small boats from the family-operated along the coast and by large commercial vessels in waters more distant. Some of the larger vessels travel great distances and have modern facilities and canning freezing on board.
Among the fish caught are chief pollack, mackerel, sardines (sardines), tuna, squid and crustaceans. Algae used as food, is both gathered wild sea and grown in shallow coastal waters. Japan has strongly resisted international attempts to restrict hunting and whaling remains a major nation.
Fish rearing in freshwater ponds has been practiced for many years, giving carp and other species. Many fish are also caught in lakes and rivers. The production of cultured pearls is a relatively small but valuable, especially around Nagoya and Nagasaki.
Japan's forests, which cover about 70 percent of the land, are valuable resources as sources of timber and the national protected areas. Approximately one third of the forest area is owned by the government - national, prefectural and local levels, the rest is held by individuals and companies.

Japan's construction and paper industries use large amounts of wood, as do various other industries. Demand far exceeds domestic production, and most of the wood used is imported. To ensure the greatest possible production in the future, the most modern methods of forest management are employed.