FY2018 feeding damage reaches 15.8 billion yen, nationwide damage drops for six consecutive years, regional damage up in 13 prefectures: Farm Ministry

Tokyo, Feb. 26 – Farm Ministry of Japan said that damage to agricultural products by birds and animals in Japan was 15.8 billion yen in the fiscal year 2019. The figure was reported on February 26, 2020, at the Liberal Democratic Party’s joint meeting on wild birds and animals. The nationwide number dropped for six consecutive years, but 13 prefectures saw a rise in the damage. According to the report, the impact was not limited to the loss of agricultural products -affected farmers are feeling reluctant to continue farming and the number of farmers who decided to exit is increasing. The ministry, therefore, is now preparing an additional survey on non-financial loss. Some party members said there is a need to make sure that there are enough hunters or we should encourage the consumption of wild bird and animal meat.

The total damage in Japan in the fiscal year 2018 was down 600 million yen from the previous year. The loss of crops started to decline in the fiscal year 2012. Compared to that year, the damage was down by 7.2 billion yen. By types of birds and animals, deer damage was 5.4 billion yen, while wild boars were responsible for 4.7 billion yen in damage. However, the ratio of the damage to the amount of crop production is decreasing in terms of value. The ministry said its target for the future is how it can solve regional problems.

Agricultural communities are hit not only by feeding damages, and “people in rural areas say that they don’t see any improvements,” according to an official from the ministry’s rural policy department. So, the ministry will conduct an additional survey on the non-financial damages, he continued.

Yosuke Tsuruho, head of LDP’s special committee for controlling wild bird and animal damage, said, “We are finding it difficult to reduce the damage. We need to look at what’s behind the problem.”

A party member, Shigeru Doko, pointed out the aging of local hunting club members. “Many members of administrative institutions, fire brigades, and local agricultural cooperatives are willing to join the hunting clubs, if these institutions can commit their responsibilities,” he said, stressing that policy to lift the number of registered hunters in rural areas is necessary.

In the New Basic Plan on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas, the ministry stated that it will move toward a direction in which JAs, youth, and farmers can participate in hunting activities.

Yasuhiro Ozato, a member of LDP’s union to help promote the use of bird and animal meat said, “If the use of the meat becomes clearer, hunters can hunt more birds and animals,” emphasizing a need to promote the use of gibier, as well.

A representative from the Japan Gibier Promotion Association, Norihiko Fujiki, said agricultural high schools in Japan have a need to add classes on local wildlife damage and how to cook gibier. With an eye to the future, Japan should add such classes to train more people so that they can get involved in the damage control, he suggested.

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