【Research】Characteristics of agricultural cooperatives’ self-reform and its challenges: with a special focus on primary cooperatives’ efforts to enhance agricultural production

  February 1st, 2018
Norinchukin Research Institute Co., Ltd.
SAITO Yuriko, Managing Director


The self-reform that agricultural cooperatives or so-called JAs (Japan Agricultural Cooperatives) in Japan are urged by the government to take necessary measures to carry out are composed of (i) marketing members’ farm products under the most advantageous conditions for members, (ii) supplying members with production inputs on the most favorable terms for them, and (iii) shifting some of JA’s human resources from financial businesses to agriculture related businesses. On the other hand, the self-reform which has been put into practice by the JAs at the grass-root level, naturally aiming at achieving these targets, has a common characteristic feature of being a member-driven reform in the sense that various members not only take part in the process of drafting a reform scheme, but they play a vital role in implementing the scheme. The JA self-reform has another characteristic feature of extensive and diversity, which exists in targets, business activities and other fields to be reformed, as well as in periods of time for implementing a reform program, since respective JAs’ self-reforms are being conducted based on actual conditions and changes of both the various members and regional agriculture. It could be said that JAs are making respective efforts to implement their self-reforms by taking their inherent advantages as a cooperative organization.

According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), however, there appears to be a perception gap about implementation of the self-reform between JAs and core farmers named as certified farmers. It is yet difficult for JAs to have a full grasp of the results of their self-reform in the form of data. Some of these results are hardly evaluated with short-term data because they need to be achieved by taking necessary measures in a long-term project. Nevertheless, the JAs are now required to make further efforts to publicize the measures and tangible achievements of their reform programs to the administration, the people and their members.


Looking back on Japan’s postwar history, we can find out that the Japanese government has not only made proposals on reform of agricultural cooperatives, but also implemented policies for the reform centering on revisions of relevant regulations several times, while agricultural cooperatives have also continuously carried out their reform by themselves. An ongoing reform of agricultural cooperatives is regarded as one of these movements. The…Link reading

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