Agricultural organizations were expected to launch a council on Thursday, Jan. 21, to discuss the issue of procurement standards for food products to be used in facilities for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics such as athletes’ quarters.
The organizations, including the Central Union of Agricultural Co-operatives (JA-Zenchu), Japan Livestock Industry Association and Japan Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) Association, plan to submit a proposal to the farm ministry and the Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, as they start discussing the standards later this year.
The Council for the Promotion of Sustainable Japanese Agricultural, Forestry and Fishery Products to promote the use of sustainably-grown local agricultural produce will be joined by other organizations such as Japan Fisheries Association, Japan Foodist Association and Japan Accreditation Board.
Since the organizing committee advocates sustainability as one of the themes of the Tokyo Olympics, agricultural industry sources say it is highly likely that the committee will also focus on whether sustainability is taken into account when procuring food products to be used in the event.
As for the London Olympics held in 2012, the organizers required food suppliers to meet high sustainability standards. As well as trying to procure mainly locally-produced foods, they adopted their own GAP certification, and recommended that suppliers of fruits, vegetables and grains also obtain organic certification and meet GLOBALG.A.P requirements.
Such moves made the domestic food industry concerned that the Tokyo organizing committee might adopt an overseas standard for food procurement. The committee is expected to announce in February the basic principles for its overall procurement policies and then decide on specific standards for different categories such as agricultural products.
JA-Zenchu officials say they will tell the organizers that specific certification is unnecessary as long as suppliers can prove that they provide safe products that meet the government’s standards.
The member organizations of the council will cooperate in gathering information and promote at home and abroad local areas which produce agricultural products with focus on sustainability. The council plans to hold a symposium in April for food industry officials and citizens, and also launch a website in Japanese and English. The council will be headed by Prof. Yasuhiro Nakashima of the University of Tokyo’s Graduate Program on Environmental Sciences, and JA-Zenchu Executive Director Shigeshi Onishi will serve as an adviser.
“The Olympics are an opportunity to promote Japan’s agricultural products worldwide,” says Yasuaki Takeda, managing director of Asia GAP Research Institute, a nonprofit organization which will serve as the council’s secretariat. “We will work on encouraging active consumption of local produce.”
(Jan. 21, 2016)