Japan’s acreage dips 26,000 hectares in 2018 due to labor shortage

TOKYO, Nov. 16 – Crop acreage in 2018 in Japan declined 26,000 hectares or 1% year-over-year to 4,048,000 hectares, according to the Farm Ministry. The use rate also dropped 0.1 points to 91.6%. The figures are declining continuously due to the aging and the retirement of farmers and labor shortage, to hit the lowest since 1955, the earliest year for which comparable data is available.

The ministry’s mid-to-long-term agricultural policy, Basic Plan for Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas, says the country needs to increase the cropping acreage to 4.43 hectares by 2025. However, the gap between the plan and reality has widened.

The ministry double-counted the acreage if the same land is used for off-season cropping. The acreage of rice and other agricultural products producers declined for 34 consecutive years. The acreage of rice growers dropped by 11,000 hectares year-over-year to 2,236,000 hectares, while that of other growers dipped by 16,000 hectares to 1,812,000 hectares.

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