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HOME  > Past issues  > 2012 August 15 - 21  > Support for newcomers to farming should be urgently improved
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2012 August 15 - 21 [AGRICULTURE]

Support for newcomers to farming should be urgently improved

August 20, 2012
To increase the number of farmers is an urgent necessity for Japan to revive the nation’s agriculture and raise the nation’s food self-sufficiency rate.

An agriculture ministry’s survey shows that the number of farm households in 2012 is 1,564, 200, down by 53,400 from the previous year. The survey also indicates a decline in the number of newcomers to farming, from 81,300 in 2006 to 54,570 in 2010.

Every year, about 13,000 people under 40 enter the agricultural sector. However, it is said that they need to spend at least three years to be able to earn a stable income. Under this severe situation, 3,000 new farmers drop out of the industry each year.

With the aim to change the current situation, including income insecurity and the increasing discontinuation of farming, as well as to encourage newcomers to stay in the agriculture industry, the ministry in this fiscal year launched a new program which provides a grant to people who are aged under 45 willing to be farmers.

In this new grant program, those who satisfy the conditions can apply for one of two types of grants. One is that those who want to become a farmer can receive 1.5 million yen annually for a maximum two years. The other is that those who have less than five years of experience as a farmer and a yearly income of less than 2.5 million yen can receive 1.5 million yen annually.

This year’s budget for the program only covers 8,200 candidates. As of the end of March, however, the number of applicants for the grants reached 15,000. So, the ministry denies grants to many qualified applicants.

Tanigawa Takuya (29) in April 2008 began rice cultivation on two hectares of paddy fields in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture. His annual income is 2 million yen on average. He applied for the grant program as his experience is less than five years. The ministry, however, rejected his application on the grounds that he used another financial assistance program to purchase agricultural machinery in 2007, and therefore already had five years of experience.

In order for newly-arrived farmers to continue farming, an urgent improvement of the program is necessary.
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