The 44 AJI Research Forefront Seminar was held! Dr. Ho Thanh Tam (Senior Researcher, Asia-Japan Research Institute, Ritsumeikan University) presented a case study of sustainable agriculture and policies in Shiga Prefecture, Japan (May 10, 2022)

On Tuesday May 10, 2022, the 44th AJI Research Frontier Seminar took place online. Dr. Ho Thanh Tam, a Senior Researcher at Ritsumeikan Asia-Japan Research Organization, gave a presentation in English on sustainable rice farming in Japan with an emphasis on Environmentally Friendly Agriculture (EFA) practices entitled “Sustainable Agricultural Practices (SAP) and Marketing Strategies for Certified Agricultural Products: Empirical Analyses of Cases in Shiga, Japan”. Dr. Tam began by pointing out that Japan is the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter, and that agriculture is the third largest contributor to global warming with rice cultivation accounting for 42%. She further informed us that Japan is the world’s third largest fertilizer user and second largest pesticide user, and these chemicals are polluting the air, land and sea. In particular Lake Biwa began to suffer eutrophication, red tides, algae bloom and mass multiplication of picoplankton through the 70s and 80s. To address this serious environmental hazard, the Japanese government started in 1992 to promote Sustainable Agriculture through EFA to reduce chemical use and produce organic agricultural products.

She told us that the government began granting subsidies to encourage the use of EFA practices in Shiga, and later nationally. As a result, EFA cultivated rice in Shiga increased rapidly to about 33% of all rice production, reducing the contamination flowing into Lake Biwa. However, adopting SAPs is time and labor consuming, and the output does not necessarily sell for a higher price, as there is presently little public awareness of EFA products.

She explained that her research questions were designed to find the reasons behind the slow uptake of SAPs from the perspectives of farmers and consumers in order to evaluate the potential for promoting EFA practices and improving marketing strategies.

This important topic generated several comments from the listeners on the practical aspects of sustainability and promoting the health benefits of organic rice, and technical questions on how she had formulated her field work investigation to get a balanced response from the farmers’ associations. Dr. Tam answered the audiences’ questions in detail, and everyone learned a lot from this interesting presentation.

44th Dr. Tam
Dr. Tam delivering her presentation

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