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Business trends

Japan's farmers adopt smart technology to streamline rice growing

Drones and GPS-ready planters have the potential to make up for scarce workers

Falling rice prices are forcing Japanese farmers to cut production costs to safeguard their profits.

TOKYO -- Smart farm technology holds great promise for farmers struggling to grow Japan's staple grain while wrestling with low prices. Among the benefits: lower production costs, higher income and a workaround for the country's chronic manpower shortage.

The new technologies, including drones that can spray crops with fertilizer and pesticides, and rice transplanting machines equipped with GPS, also have the potential to lower supermarket prices. This will help farm businesses by helping to shore up Japan's dwindling rice consumption and by making exports more competitive.

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