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Business

Japan's farm operators eyeing Asian production

Shrinking home market driving shift in focus

TOKYO -- Japanese agribusinesses involved in farming are foraying into growth markets of Asia, launching production in such countries as Vietnam, amid dim prospects at home.

The nation's agricultural output dropped 16% in value terms from 1995 levels to 2015, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

Miyazaki Prefecture-based Kushima AoiFarm has begun Vietnamese production of Japanese sweet potatoes, known for their high sugar content and popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan. With production technology transferred from Japan, it sees first-year output at 1,250 tons. A portion will be exported to Singapore and Hong Kong.

The company is taking a two-pronged marketing approach. Japanese-grown sweet potatoes will be exported and geared toward the well-off, and the Vietnamese output toward the middle and lower classes, an official said.

Major rice wholesaler Kitoku Shinryo will start growing primarily koshihikari, a popular variety cultivated in Japan, in northern Vietnam this month. It targets initial output at around 500 tons. The crop will be supplied to local Japanese restaurants, which are increasing in number. The company also looks to export some of the rice to China, according to an official.

Vietnam is suited for Japanese rice varieties in terms of soil and weather conditions, according to the Japan External Trade Organization. And farm products are easier to export from the Southeast Asian nation than from Japan, where quarantine requirements are tough.

Agricultural Production Corp. GRA is undertaking a feasibility study on growing strawberries in the Middle East. The Miyagi Prefecture-based company has successfully produced strawberries as sweet as their Japanese counterparts at greenhouse facilities in India for supply to local hotels.

(Nikkei)

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