TOKYO, Jan. 19 — Japan’s agriculture ministry will provide financial support to innovative projects that will double an expiration date of prepackaged rice to more than one year.
The announcement for funding the sector’s research and development was made as part of the government’s pledge to boost Japanese food exports.
It aims to solve problems as increasing use of sanitary, phytosanitary and technical procedures at borders takes several months and shortens overseas sales period, representing barriers for exports of Japanese-grown rice.
Food makers in Nigata prefecture and other major rice producing areas in Japan have developed prepackaged rice, but they found it difficult to develop new technologies which can help extend the expiration date by themselves, industry sources said.
The agriculture ministry said it will support projects for basic research that connect researchers, academicians, farmers and food makers.
The ministry has set up an ambitious goal to quadruple Japanese rice exports by 2019, at a time when the Japanese consumption of the staple food has continued sliding.
In 2016, Japan exported a total of 24,000 tons of rice; 10,000 tons of rice as a staple food and 14,000 tons of rice for processed products such as rice crackers and sake.