Hiroki Iwasa belongs to GRA Co., Ltd., which produces the premium strawberry “Migaki strawberry” believed to be a “popular gem” in Yamamoto-cho, Miyagi Prefecture. What is the future of Japanese agriculture that Mr. Iwasa, who has contributed to local rebuilding through IT and branding, is seeing? In the second part, I will ask Mr. Iwasa how to solve the problems of Japanese agriculture.
-The biggest challenge to Japanese agriculture, what does Mr. Iwasa think?
When considering the future of Japanese agriculture, the most important issue is the decline in the productive population. If it was an area that could be mechanized and mass-produced, like the strawberries we make, it could turn it into a business even as the number of producers decreased. However, the reality is that such investment is not possible depending on the type of agricultural product. Strawberries have a domestic market of about 200 billion yen, although large-scale investments can recover capital, can be mechanized, but their ability to return investment is not suitable for varieties with small market sizes.
As a result, what will happen in Japan in the future is the loss of food diversity. Up to now, small-scale farmers have grown a variety of crops, allowing us to live in a rich diet.
However, because the number of farmers is decreasing, it is possible that agricultural products cannot be mechanized, mass-produced domestically cannot be produced, and cannot be eaten domestically. The variety of Japanese food is at the root of culture. Personally, I have a sense of crisis about that loss of diversity.
-Does it have to enter a solution?
When talking about this matter, we sometimes have the opinion that it is advisable to limit varieties produced in Japan and to import other varieties from abroad. Like the Netherlands, the world’s second-largest food exporter, it is argued that there could be an alternative to implementing large-scale intensive agriculture by shrinking only certain types of food in the country. other agricultural products by importing. ..
However, there is a big difference between the Netherlands and Japan as a country with neighboring countries on the mainland and an island nation surrounded by the sea. There are also agricultural powers around the Netherlands, such as France and Italy, that can be imported with low shipping costs. On the other hand, when considering the import of agricultural products into Japan, ships will rot agricultural products, and aircraft will be too expensive. I think it is risky to narrow the varieties produced with references to the Netherlands.
I think in order to maintain current Japanese food, it should be made in Japan above a certain level. We do what we eat. I think this failure to do this must be absolutely prevented.
It sounds exaggerated, but considering human peace, I think the last thing we end up with is food. Food is life and life. I think there must be an end in the country where food is not available, no matter how much money is spent.
I think consumers should consciously pay for small farmers’ crops that contribute to food diversity, as well as invest in tech industries like us. Realize “food variety” from a consumer’s point of view and pay for value. I think more and more people are consciously paying for high quality, low volume agricultural products.
– Specifically, what should agricultural producers do?
I think the strategy is different for each. From the consumer’s point of view, the food sector has pressure to keep prices lowest. For everyday varieties, it is necessary to consolidate and improve to meet the price expectations.
However, in practice it is difficult to lower the selling price of varieties that are not eaten often. In such a situation, I think we have to create something other than economic rationality, such as branding by letting consumers know the manufacturer’s story.
We are confident that the ideas and ideas we have formulated with Migaki Strawberry can be applied to most large-scale and operational agriculture, although detailed techniques are different. . However, it cannot be a roll model for small non-commodity varieties. I think it is important to take a polarized look at Japanese agriculture itself and come up with the best strategies and success cases for each sector.
I often travel abroad, produce strawberries in India and go on business trips to export destinations, but the more I go, the more variety, richness and splendor I feel of Japanese food. .
In order to protect the diversity of food that underpins Japanese culture, I want to confront what I can do as a producer and as a consumer.
Part 1: Solving social problems and making contributions to the local community
Born in Yamamoto, Miyagi Prefecture in 1977. The CEO of GRAK Co., Ltd. started his career while attending university and is now
He is the head of six corporations in Japan and India.
After the 2011 East Japan earthquake, the GRA was created with the aim of rebuilding the heavily damaged hometown of Yamamoto Town. “Area regeneration” focusing on gardening advanced facilities will become an important job. We will change the strawberry business structure and produce “Migaki strawberries” for 1,000 yen / seed. His books include “1% chance of reality in 99% despair” (Diamond) and “Sweet and Sour Management” (Bookwalker).