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Business

Japanese company eyes vegetable factory in world's coldest city

Hokkaido Corp. to grow tomatoes, cucumbers in Russia's Yakutsk

A cold-weather greenhouse built by Hokkaido Corp. in Yakutsk, Russia.

YAKUTSK, Russia -- A company backed by businesses in Japan's northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido is building a large-scale plant factory in Yakutsk -- a city in the Russian Far East often described as the coldest on earth.

Hokkaido Corp. built a 0.1-hectare greenhouse here in October, where tomatoes are now being grown. It will start expanding the facility next year, with the aim of covering 3.2 hectares by the beginning of 2018 and adding cucumbers and other vegetables. The project will cost $20 million, part of which will be funded by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation.

An agricultural company funded by local financial institutions and other investors will be responsible for growing the produce. With Russian President Vladimir Putin's trip to Japan coming up, the project could be considered a perfect example of bilateral economic cooperation.

Hokkaido Corp., founded last year, mostly runs businesses targeting Russia. Its investors include Hokkaido Bank, a subsidiary of Hokuhoku Financial Group. Hokko, another Hokkaido-based company, will contribute its expertise in building cold-weather greenhouses and growing crops inside them.

Russia is building more plant factories in an attempt to alleviate its shortage of vegetables during winter months. Other Japanese companies are also tapping this opportunity. JGC began producing tomatoes and other produce in Khabarovsk in February. JFE Engineering, a unit of JFE Holdings, is working toward building vegetable factories in Russia as well.

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