Japan to help farmers’ access to foreign markets with advice

TOKYO, July 2 — Japan’s agriculture ministry has launched a program to assist farmers to gain access to foreign markets for their agricultural exports by providing advice on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) rules and pesticide residue standards mandated by importing countries.

The ministry has set up counseling windows at 17 outlets of plant quarantine associations across the country.

On request, hands-on advice will be available free of charge for producers at their farms from specialists on SPS measures and regulations governing pesticide residue in foods.

The move is a part of the Japanese government’s strategy to boost agricultural exports overseas in order to offset an obvious loss in the domestic market, as Tokyo appears ready to expose the agriculture sector to more import competition through free trade agreements.

Japanese farmers, however, face the problem on not having enough expertise to identify and assess importing countries’ trade-restrictive measures for the protection of human life or health, animal life or health, or plant life or health.

There are an estimated 513 producing areas that need to adopt SPS requirements for exports such as fruits and vegetables, rice, Japanese green tea and bonsai trees, according to the ministry.

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