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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 July 15 - 21  > Local assemblies one after another enact ordinance to protect heirloom seeds
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2020 July 15 - 21 [ECONOMY]

Local assemblies one after another enact ordinance to protect heirloom seeds

July 17, 2020
Local assemblies have been enacting ordinances to stop further abdication of a public responsibility toward protecting heirloom seeds of staple crops such as rice, wheat, and soybeans in order to support regional agriculture.

As of June, 21 prefectural assemblies including Hokkaido, Nagano, and Kagoshima established some sort of seed ordinance, and 18 local governments already put the ordinance into practice.

In April of 2018, the national government abolished the Major Agricultural Products Seed Act under the pretext of promoting the new entry of agribusinesses into Japan's seed market. The Japan Family Farmers' Movement (Nouminren) and the National Campaign for the Defense of the People’s Food and Health (Shokkenren) have since presented petitions and lobbied local assemblies. They also generated cooperation with agricultural cooperatives in each community. Japanese Communist Party assemblypersons repeatedly sought the enactment of such an ordinance in assembly sessions.

The ordinance the Hiroshima prefectural assembly unanimously passed, for example, requires the prefectural governor to designate recommended varieties of major farm products, including vegetables. The prefectural government based on the ordinance has to preserve, produce, and popularize heirloom seeds as well as take necessary financial measures.

Among many prefectures which have yet to make an ordinance, efforts to do so are very active. Examples include Yamaguchi Prefecture. The Yamaguchi Nouminren and the JCP Yamaguchi prefectural assemblypersons' group in collaboration with JCP Yamaguchi City assembly members made representations to the prefectural government to establish a seed protection ordinance and secure enough budgets and personnel so that local indigenous seeds can be preserved.

Nouminren Secretary General Yoshikawa Toshiaki said, "Wider cooperation among farmers, consumers, and local assemblypersons is contributing to an increasing number of municipalities implementing the ordinance. Not only rice and wheat but also the crops that are unique to each locality are becoming covered by the ordinance, which is a positive trend. Nouminren will continue to work hard to urge the national government to reinstitute the Major Agricultural Products Seed Act."

Past related article:
> Abe gov’t intends to turn Japan’s heirloom seeds into profits of multinational agribusinesses [April 14 & 15, 2020]
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