Agriculture ministry kicks off new measure to support fostering of export-focused production areas

TOKYO, Feb. 14 — The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has come up with a new measure to nurture production areas focused on exports.

The ministry will provide assistance to prefectures building infrastructure to promote exports, including cultivating demand and coping with regulations in importing countries.

The ministry allocated 550 million yen in the fiscal 2022 second extra budget to support around 10 prefectures to develop a model project to produce and sell products overseas in large quantity.

Under the Global Farmers / Fishermen / Foresters / Food Manufacturers Project (GFP) on nurturing flagship export-oriented production areas, the ministry will offer up to 50 million yen each in subsidies to councils made up of parties concerned such as prefectural governments, agricultural cooperatives and local trading houses.

The ministry will accept applications until March 16 from prefectures hoping to participate in the project.

Challenges in expanding exports include dealing with food-related regulations of importing countries such as on the use of agricultural chemicals, as well as how to build large-lot production bases and distribution networks that can keep products fresh.

The ministry will support prefectures that are actively working on creating production and distribution systems with focus on overseas shipments.

Prefectural governments and farm coops will create a council along with farming instructors who give technical guidance, consultants and export trading companies to create plans for large-lot overseas sales and development of sales channels.

Based on the plans, growing areas will strive to change their production methods in line with importers’ requests, including a major shift to organic farming or introduction of new varieties.

Distributors will work on preparing the cold chain in the areas, collecting products in mixed loading and building systems for overseas shipments from regional ports.

The government will also support the councils create their plans by providing latest information on demands and regulations of importing markets through the export assistance platform it is establishing in major importing countries such as the United States and Thailand.

The new measure is subject to 29 agricultural items such as beef and apples designated by the government as having export potential, without any restrictions on which countries they are shipped to.

The subsidy will be offered to cover expenses of replanting to or planting new varieties, purchasing seeds, seedlings and production materials necessary for organic cultivation and other costs.

Recipients of the funds are required to slash production and distribution costs by 20 percent or more through such efforts.

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