As part of an academic exchange between the University of Chiba of Japan and the University of Panama on Thursday 26th of October, Simply Natural Farms hosted delegation made up of 9 students and professionals from Japanese and Panamanian agribusiness. The University of Chiba is one of the pioneering universities in the research and development of the Vertical Farm, a practice that is used extensively in the Simply Natural greenhouses.
The objective of the tour was for the Japanese delegation to become familiar with Panamanian agriculture and agro-export with a view to deepening a research and training relationship that benefits the Panamanian and Japanese agri-food sectors.
SupPlant irrigation project engineer Ron Hacohen received the group and gave them a midday tour of the Simply Natural Farms irrigation and greenhouse systems.
This tour comes on the heels of the June G20 meeting held for the first time in Japan where the member countries, through their Ministers of Agriculture, analyzed the new emerging challenges for agricultural systems in three areas: innovation for the sustainability of the agri-food sector; agrifood value chains for inclusive and sustainable growth; and collaboration and knowledge sharing on global issues.
Innovation and the application of advanced technology is key to Japan’s efforts to revive a declining key industry. In almost a decade, the number of Japanese agricultural producers has fallen from 2.2 million to 1.7 million and the average age is 67 years.
Only 7% of Japan’s active population is employed in agriculture, and most farmers work only part-time. Topography greatly limits Japan’s agriculture, which can produce only 40% of the food it needs. Around 85% of the territory is comprised of mountains and most of the remaining arable land is dedicated to growing rice, which has always been the staple food of the Japanese.
The government grants subsidies to rice producers to maintain production in small properties of one hectare, but the change in eating habits has threatened this crop. Per capita consumption has fallen from 118 kg in 1962 to less than 60 kg of rice in recent years. Thus, Japan has begun to promote diversification in the field.
For Simply Natural Farms, it is a privilege to assist with this diversification and share our knowledge regarding the application of technology to modern farming practices, such as our state-of-the-art drip irrigation system. Simply Natural looks forward to exchanging information on controlled environment technological innovations and the research being conducted by the University of Chiba