TOKYO, Aug. 10 – The number of young beginning farmers under the age of 49 was 19,290 in 2018, down 7% from the previous year. It fell below 20,000 for the first time in five years, according to a survey released by the Ministry of Agriculture on August 9. The drop in the figure is partly attributable to the decreased in the number of new employed farmers due to an increasingly severer competition for new workers with other industries. Meanwhile, the total number of new farmers amounted to 55,810 and exceeded 50,000 for two consecutive years. The numbers of beginning farmers in 2015 and 2016, however, were at the 60,000 level. The survey revealed a new challenge for the industry; how it can secure new human resource to reestablish its production base.
The number of young new farmers under 49 years old has been over 20,000 for four consecutive years since 2014. However, in 2016, it started to decline.
By working style, the decreased in the number of new employed farmers under 49 years was prominent. It fell 11% year-over-year to 7,060. The number of self-employed new farmers was below 10,000, down 2% to 9,870. The number of “new entrants” who made their entrants into agriculture based on their own land and funds also dropped by 13% to 2,360.
“The labor shortages in several industries got severer, and the competition for new workers intensified,” an official from the ministry’s Young Farmers and Women Division explained. The jobs-to-applicants ratio has been growing since 2014 (1.09), and the ratio in 2018 was 1.61. It seems that young people are finding jobs in other industries.
However, the total number of new farmers increased by 140 to 55,810. The number of self-employed new farmers was up 3% to 42,750. The number of those over 60 years old grew 11% to 27,000, and that boosted the growth in the total number of self-employed farmers. The ministry said this is partly because of the increase in the figure of post-retirement new farmers.