In an effort to encourage foreign tourists to buy strawberries as gifts, Fukuoka Prefecture, known as a major production area of strawberries, has started a service of taking over the troublesome quarantine procedures for foreign travelers who wish to take the strawberries back home.
In order to control pests, most countries require travelers coming back from abroad carrying plants, fruits and vegetables to go through quarantine at an airport before leaving the country where they purchased them. This is making it bothersome for tourists to buy farm products as gifts.
Under the service, offered by a strawberry farm, a farm co-op and travel agency in the prefecture, tourists can make purchase orders for strawberries and fill out an application form for export inspection at the farm or highway rest areas in Fukuoka, and receive quarantined fresh strawberries at the local airport immediately before departure.
Chikushino Strawberry Fields, a farm in Chikushino, Fukuoka, which grows more than 10 varieties including the popular Amaou and Kaorino brands, set up a panel explaining quarantine requirements of different countries at its reception area. Farm staff help tourists from countries requiring quarantine, such as Thailand and Indonesia, fill out an export inspection application form, and deliver the strawberries to the airport in time for departure.
Many foreign tourists visit the farm because it is only a 30-minute drive away from Fukuoka Airport. About 10 percent of roughly 16,000 people who visit the farm in a year come from foreign countries.
“I hope tourists who visit the farm will be impressed with the taste of our strawberries and decide to buy them to take home as gifts,” said Noriaki Ishibashi, head of the farm, stressing that they are offering the service to promote Fukuoka-made strawberries abroad.
JA Fukuoka Yame, a farm co-op located in Yame, Fukuoka, is also planning to start taking purchase orders for Amaou strawberries. “We are seeking the best way to promote Fukuoka-made strawberries and expand new sales channels,” said a JA official.
The service is developed by Japan Shopping Tourism Organization, an industrial organization promoting shopping by foreign tourists, and is subsidized by the farm ministry.
(Jan. 6, 2016)