JA Biei, an agricultural cooperative in Hokkaido, signed an agreement with TasTAFE, a training organization run by the government of Tasmania, Australia, on Feb. 28 to offer young Japanese farmers training and research opportunities during the winter.
JA Biei hopes to make the agreement the initial step towards setting up business in Tasmania, which is located in the southern hemisphere with the seasons opposite to those of Japan, so that Japanese farmers can export farm products from Australia when farming in Japan is in off-season.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Tomeo Kumagai, head of JA Biei, and Jeremy Rockliff, Tasmania’s Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Training, in Tokyo’s Minato Ward.
The farm coop currently exports farm products – mainly tomatoes, melons and strawberries – to Southeast Asian nations. It is aiming at cultivating the products in Tasmania, which has similar environmental conditions to Biei, to ship them throughout the year.
Under the five-year agreement, TasTAFE will provide a training base for JA Biei’s farmer members and the two parties will strengthen exchange of farmers and information related to agricultural research through internship and other programs.
JA Biei will begin with sending four farmers in November to Tasmania to receive training on cultivation techniques. JA Biei officials said while many in Japan think of Australia only as an exporter of farm products, they hope the program will contribute to nurturing farmers in both areas by giving them a chance to learn each other’s cultivation techniques.
In signing the agreement, JA Biei’s Kumagai said he wants Japanese young farmers to acquire business sense through getting training in Tasmania. Rockliff said both parties should work together closely to develop agriculture.