KUSHIRO, June 4 — Japanese sheep farmers have launched a project with New Zealand to rebuild their sustainable sheep production base in the northern island of Hokkaido.
Hokkaido has a local specialty: “Genghis Khan” lamb, a shareable hot platter of lamb medallions surrounded by grilled vegetables.
As domestic demand for sheep meat has grown, Japanese lamb imports reached more than 20,000 tons in 2017.
On the other hand, the country’s lamb production was merely 152 tons in 2014.
Hokkaido was once home to sheep farming, but a flood of imports forced sheep farmers out of the industry, and today it has only 200 farmers with 11,529 sheep.
That’s why Hokkaido moved to build the industry again.
The first step is to identify major challenges and make initial recommendations. They will include the management of breeding ewes and parasites, a crucial concern to sheep farmers.