【News】 Ruling party asks government to consider risks of poor harvest when simulating rice supply and demand (March 12, 2014)


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tuesday showed a simulation of rice supply and demand for 2023 as part of the government’s effort to disclose information in line with its new agricultural policy of letting farmers produce rice based on their own judgment instead of following the government-set targets.

The ministry’s simulation, shown at a joint meeting of the Liberal Democratic Party’s Agriculture and Forestry Division and Research Commission on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Strategy, estimates that demand for rice consumed as staple food will decrease by around 80,000 tons every year from 7.87 million tons posted in 2013, and will reach 7.03 million tons in 2023.

Some LDP officials stressed the need to also prepare for poor harvest, as the new policy would lead to limited production areas of rice for human consumption.

Based on its demand estimates, the ministry simulated three patterns of supply and demand trend – eased, balanced and tightened – according to degree of crop changes to rice for feed and declining trend of rice consumption.

Under the eased supply-demand simulation, the government estimates production of rice consumed as staple food will increase, making rice supply exceed demand by 270,000 tons in 2023. In terms of acreage, production was estimated to total 54,000 hectares, nearly double the amount of rice excessively planted in 2013.

As for the balanced supply-demand simulation, the ministry estimated that the current trend of declining production of rice for human consumption will continue and the overall supply and demand balance will be retained.

Under the tightened supply-demand simulation, the ministry estimated that the trend of declining production will expand even more to drop 130,000 tons below domestic demand, totaling 21,000 hectares in terms of acreage.

Hiroshi Moriyama, a Liberal Democratic Party member of the Lower House from Kagoshima Prefecture, criticized the fact that the three simulations are based on an average crop and do not take into account the effects of rich or poor harvest.

Moriyama pointed out that along with the implementation of the new rice policy, rice production areas will be limited more and more, which means an unprecedented situation will occur if crops in such areas are damaged by disaster or cold weather.

If there is a supply shortage of rice for human consumption, the government will be held responsible, he said, adding it should seriously consider cases of poor harvest.

Ministry officials responded that the ministry will cope with the issue in the future separately from the supply-demand simulation.

(March 12, 2014)

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