Akira Banzai, president of the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu), asked an advisory council on Friday, Aug. 8, to discuss self-reform of the JA group in response to the government’s plan to restructure the group, taking farmers’ standpoint into consideration.
The council should “listen to the voices of co-operative members who engage in farming and (present measures to) cope with future changes as a JA group so that the group can play a significant role (in increasing farmers’ income),” Banzai told council members, according to JA-Zenchu officials.
The council, chaired by Kazuo Kimura who heads JAs in Akita Prefecture, is expected to compile an interim report before mid-November, after discussing such issues as revision of services offered by JAs and reform of the Central and Prefectural Unions of Agricultural Co-operatives to supervise primary co-ops. JA-Zenchu hopes the council’s view will be reflected in the government’s bill to revise the JA law, which is expected to be submitted to the ordinary Diet session starting in January.
The council will continue discussions next year on such issues as its membership system, so that their proposals will be reflected in JA’s national meeting scheduled in fall next year.
Banzai also called on the council to come up with plans to strengthen farming management support measures to assist large-scale farmers, to review the organization and membership system of JAs to make them more rooted in communities with their foundations on food and agriculture, and to revise business and organization of agricultural co-operative associations which supplement the functions of primary JAs.
Banzai said the Central and prefectural Unions of Agricultural Co-operatives have a role to cope with various issues in regards to individual primary co-ops, because the differences in the size of primary co-ops are widening as a result of increasing mergers and more prefectures introducing one-prefecture, one-JA system.
He said JA-Zenchu should maintain its function of representing the JA group, coordinating among group members and securing sound management of the group, the roles which cannot be assumed by primary co-ops or agricultural co-operative associations. While taking these roles into account, the council must review JA-Zenchu’s organizational structure, legal status and source of revenue necessary for operation, Banzai said.
The issues will be discussed by two special committees. One chaired by Yonosuke Kagawa who heads JAs in Hiroshima Prefecture will deal with the business and organization of primary co-ops and agricultural co-operative associations, and the other chaired by Jinro Anada who heads JAs in Toyama Prefecture will deal with the revision of the system of JA-Zenchu supervising primary co-ops.
An expert panel headed by Prof. Nobuhiko Sugiura of Chuo Graduate School of Strategic Management will be created to provide outsiders’ perspectives for the self-reform plan.
(Aug. 9, 2014)