July 4, 2008


Japan plants more rice to use as animal feed

Japan planted 80 percent more rice for animal feed this year, a survey by the farm ministry showed on Thursday (July 3, 2008).


The increased planting was part of a planned switch of 100,000 hectares away from food rice to other crops. Japan's rice acreage is falling from 1.64 million hectares to 1.54 million hectares. The 100,000-hectare drop could be used for growing other crops.


Japan produces 8 million tonnes of rice annually, but demand is falling due to an ageing population. 


Thus the Japanese government is paying subsidies to encourage farmers to produce less table rice and grow other farm products, such as wheat and soy and non-food-use rice.


Rice farmers have begun supplying local livestock farmers seeking for an alternative to expensive imported grains.


Masaaki Okuhara, director-general at the Ministry of Agriculture's staple food department, said at a news conference that the shift would stabilise farmers income while at the same time making the best use of existing rice fields.


Still, the land used for growing rice used in feed and food processing is miniscule compared to the 1.57 million hectares used for growing table rice. Last year, the country's rice acreage totaled 1.61 million hectares.   


The ministry is carrying out its rice planting survey for the first time in mid-June and sending out its message to farmers so as to allow them to adjust their planting in time for the autumn harvest.

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