【Research】Structural change in core farmers engaged in land-extensive farming and challenges faced by agricultural cooperatives’ group in Japan


January 1st, 2017
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
UCHIDA Takio, Senior Chief Researcher

■Abstract

From 2015 Census of Agriculture and Forestry, we can find out that farmers belonging to so-called Showa single-digit generation, who were born in the first decade of the Showa period (1926 and 1934) and sustained post-war Japanese agriculture, increasingly retired from farming in a very short period. (1) This phenomenon is observed in a beginning of decreases not only in commercial farm households, but also in small-scale farm households (a total number of non-commercial farm households and land tenure non-farm households). On the other hand, (2) organized farm management entities, which became cultivators of farm lands owned by those retired households, have been enhancing their presence by increasing their total area of cultivated lands under management up to a record high of more than 500 thousand hectares in the country. Furthermore, (3) with incorporation of the organized management entities being increasingly progressed, these entities have initiated new business operations in such ways as engagement with so-called “AFFrinnovation” (sixth industrialization of agriculture, forestry and fisheries) and increased employment of permanently hired workers, which operations are different from those of existing individual farm households. (4) It is also suggested that among most of organized management entities that have been incorporated, community-based farm management entities named as “Shuraku-Eino” (literally, community-farming) are particularly playing a major role of sustaining land-extensive farming in the country with continuously being affiliated to agricultural cooperatives as their regular member organizations.

Agricultural cooperatives (JAs) and their nationwide business and organizational network called JA Group will be required to adequately fulfill their functions in a structural change of the land-extensive farming especially by strengthening measures to meet the needs of organized management entities such as community-based farm management entities that have become core farming organizations, in collaboration with public agricultural agencies such as extension centers, while they concurrently maintain JAs’ activities of providing services to individual farmers who still occupy a majority of membership at respective agricultural cooperatives.

Introduction

For many years, it has been regarded as a serious problem of the Japanese agriculture how to maintain its production system in the country after farmers of so-called Showa single-digit generation, who were born between 1926 and 1934 and sustained post-war Japanese agriculture (hereinafter referred to as “Showa single-digit generation” or “the said generation”), retire from farming.

This paper provides an overview of the structural change taking place in land-extensive farming at the grass-roots level with special emphasis on situations of farm management entities (farm households and organized management entities), agricultural labor, farm lands and the like on the basis of various statistical data such as the 2015 Census of Agriculture and Forestry showing a massive wave of the said generation’s retirement from farming.…Link reading

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