food crisis in japan
Dipping below 40% for the first time in 10 years, Japan's self-sufficiency in food is creating concern. One concern in particular is the reliance on Chinese imports. The portion of Japan's food produced at home came to 39% in the year to March. "Poor weather led to poor crops while the declining consumption of rice has failed to stop," said an official at the ministry of agriculture, forestry and fisheries. The news came at a time of growing concern both in Japan and overseas about food from China following a string of high-profile scares. Japan counts on China as its second largest foreign supplier of food after the U.S.
Japan's food self-sufficiency was still above 70% in the early 1960s but has since steadily declined as the world's second largest economy shifts away from agriculture and as the diet becomes more Western. The Japanese are increasingly turning away from rice, the longtime staple of their diet. Annual rice consumption per head has been around post-World War II lows as different foods enter Japanese kitchens and working women opt for quicker-to-serve bread or pasta meals.
Japanese food self-sufficiency and local initiatives to improve it
Hiroyo Hasegawa International Society for Agricultural Meteorology The Netherlands June 1, 2010
Have you ever wondered what the level of food self-sufficiency is in your country? If you live in a place where food is abundant and agriculture is thriving, you may not have even thought about it before.
The circumstances surrounding food issues and agriculture are dramatically changing, however, especially with an increasing number of natural disasters like droughts and floods caused by extreme climate phenomena having a direct impact. In addition, depending on the kind of food being produced, formerly major food-exporting countries such as India and China have become food importers, spurred on by their increasing populations and changing eating habits. Then there is the issue of increasing "food miles," the overuse of energy eaten up by long-distance food transportation, along with the corresponding growth in greenhouse gas emissions. Under the circumstances, it is important to pay attention to the rate of food self-sufficiency, which indicates how well a country can feed its citizens without relying on imported food.
As this issue is closely related to any nation's security, it is drawing public attention in Japan, too. ...
Items: Feeding Japan in crisis
Jake Caldwell Center for American Progress USA March 16, 2011
Japan’s devastating and ongoing humanitarian crisis will require the United States and other nations to ensure Japan’s food security needs are met during this critical period. Facing ruined rice fields along its northeast coast and crippled grain storage infrastructure, as well as the potential threat of radiation spreading to croplands across the country, basic necessities such as food and water are needed immediately. But more sweeping food and agricultural assistance will be needed in the medium-term for Japan, the world’s largest importer of food. ...
Japan battles to avoid food crisis
Commodity Online India March 17, 2011
TOKYO (Commodity Online) : Yet another crisis looms over Japan as country’s agriculture ministry issued a warning of an expected tightening of the food supply-demand balance in the country. The ministry said the country, badly hit by the devastating quake and tsunami may be significantly affected due to its low food self-sufficiency. The ministry added that If food imports become impossible, households will be unable to secure sufficient food, the report says, noting Japan's food self-sufficiency rate has fallen below 40 percent on a calorie basis.
I world grain stockpiles have now declined to levels seen in the early 1970s, a period when the idea of a food crisis became a pressing world issue, it said. Meanwhile, fuel shortages and disruptions to transportation networks have meant supplies sent by food companies have failed to be delivered to shelters in prefectures struck by last week's massive earthquake and tsunami. ...
Tsunami risk to Japan's self-sufficiency in rice
Agrimoney.com UK March 17, 2011
Soil damage caused by the tsunami may cost Japan its hopes of securing self-sufficiency in rice, a leading farm academic has said, adding his voice to those forecasting that the disaster will increase the country's crop imports. The Tohuku region of northern Japan, which bore the brunt of the tsunami, may see its predominance in national rice production threatened if salt water left by the disaster caused significant fertility loss to land, grain economist Mark Welch said. Salt water damage to land following tsunamis is a widely-recognised threat, by bodies including the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, which rates rice as a crop with medium-tolerance to salt, less than that of barley and cotton. "Japan is self-sufficient in rice production but this capability may be threatened if sea water from the tsunami contaminated farm land," Mr Welch said. ...
Mr Welch's comments came he warned that Japanese farming "may face long-term impacts" from the earthquake and tsunami. "Even if the major ports are still functioning, inland transportation systems are seriously damaged," Mr Welch, at Texas-based agricultural university Tamu, said. "The net effect of the disaster on the grain trade may be an increase in commodity imports to replace domestic production." ...
The Japanese earthquake and agriculture trade
Ross Korves Truth About Trade and Technology USA March 17, 2011
Truth About Trade and Technology is a nonprofit advocacy group led by American farmers. Narrowly focused, issue specific - Truth About Trade and Technology is committed to promoting global free trade and agricultural biotechnology including genetically modified goods.
The earthquake and associated tsunami have had an impact on Japan’s agricultural production and food import capacity, but wide spread damage appears to have avoided. Japan’s food self sufficiency on a caloric basis is estimated by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries at 41 percent, and import capacity is as important as its domestic production capabilities. Imports are likely to increase to cover immediate domestic production shortfalls. Long-term changes in imports will be driven by changes in government food policies.
Japan is about the size of California and mostly rugged and mountainous; only 11.6 percent of its land is considered arable and another 0.9 percent is in permanent crops. It has 10.5 million acres of cropland with 60 percent irrigated. Production agriculture accounts for 1.1 percent of the country’s GDP, with 3.9 percent of the labor force employed in farming. Commercial farms are small by U.S. standards, averaging a little less than 5 acres. Rice paddies cover half the farmland, but 30 percent of that land is diverted to other crops. A little less than 20 percent of the nation’s rice land has been affected and some land may shift back to rice in other parts of the country. According to the Foreign Agricultural Service of USDA, rice carryover supplies in Japan are about 34 percent of annual use.
The most severe damage is on the east side of Honshu, the main island, from Tokyo to the northern end. The agricultural island of Hokkaido to the north has much less damage. The same is true of the west side of Honshu and the southern half of the island. Japan’s dry winter season ended about mid-February with the beginning of the rainy season. April-May is the main planting time. Some of the land flooded by the tsunami may be planted this year if the water can be drained and debris removed. Land contaminated by salt will need at least a year to be restored.
Preliminary reports indicate that the major ports in northeast Honshu most damaged by the earthquake and tsunami handle mostly non-agricultural products. One that does import grain is hampered by power outages. Most meat imports enter through southern ports that have received only minimal damage. Shortages of electricity have already been identified as a general problem in areas where nuclear power plants have gone off-line, but Japan has surplus generation capacity that can help meet immediate demands. The electric power grid is working in most of the country and power is being shifted to areas that have lines operational. Most of the livestock and feed mills are located in the central portion of the country according to Parr Rosson of Texas A & M University. Problems moving feed into areas with infrastructure damage may reduce meat, milk and egg production.
Long-term impacts of radiation leaks from disabled nuclear power plants on agricultural production are not part of the current assessments.
According to Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries estimates for 2008, self sufficiency ranges from 96 percent for eggs, 95 percent for rice, 80 percent for vegetables, 70 percent for milk and dairy products, 56 percent for meats, 41 percent for fruit, 26 percent for feed grains, 14 percent for wheat and 6 percent for soybeans. The high self sufficiency for eggs, dairy products and meats are made possible by imports of feed grains and soybeans used for livestock and poultry feed. ...
Related: What Japan's earthquake means for agricultural commodities
Agrimoney.com UK March 13, 2011
Japan's disaster may have a significant impact on grain prices. But not in a way that is not immediately apparent. Sure, it is likely that the disaster will, for a while, continue to add to the negative pressure already weighing on agricultural commodities. ... But a longer-term impact may become harder to ignore – in reviving the case for agricultural commodities as a source of energy as well as food. Soaring food prices appeared, early in the year, to have the biofuels lobby on the ropes, with energy crops seen as taking farmland from its "true" purpose of feeding the world.
However, the nuclear reactor problems caused by Japan's earthquake have redrawn question marks over one key form of conventional energy creation at a time when the shortcomings of another, oil, were already being examined following the unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. Fuel security is back on the agenda. And while other conventionals such as coal and natural gas will do their bit to fill the gap, as will alternative sources such as wind and tidal power, farmers will likely be asked to carry a bigger burden - even at a price in world food security.
Grain industry keeps keen eye on Japan
Western Farm Press USA March 18, 2011
The U.S. Grains Council is keeping a close eye on its largest corn and second-largest barley and sorghum market as it begins its recovery process from the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated eastern Japan last week.
While no official reports on total grain trade impact have been made known to the Council, major importing facilities in northern mainland Japan have been severely damaged by the natural disaster, causing some to be not operational for the time being. The affected area accounts for roughly 30 percent of Japan’s 25 million metric ton total compound feed production capacity. While the extent of actual damage is still being assessed, much of the damaged capacity is being covered by facilities coming back online and by increased production by feedmills in unaffected areas.
“Buyers have asked to channel vessels to other ports or feed mills unharmed by the natural disaster. In addition, there are current plans to increase production at unaffected mills and ports and transport the products to the affected areas. The immediate challenges will be the availability of boats, uncertainty of inland road conditions and fuel supply issues,” said Mike Callahan, USGC senior director of international operations. In fact, energy and fuel supply shortages are critical issues impacting the poultry and livestock producers in affected areas. ...