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Japan looks to drones, self-driving tractors to lift rice exports

Farm ministry eyes 40% cost reduction using new tech and fast-growing varieties

Japan’s agriculture ministry plans to dramatically reduce rice production costs by developing technology like autonomous tractors. (Courtesy of the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization)

TOKYO -- Japan has fought long and hard in trade talks to protect its rice growers from foreign competition. Now the government wants to help them go global.

The agriculture ministry plans to develop new technology to lower cultivation costs in a push to boost exports. It aims to slash production costs by more than 40% by using new crop varieties with greater yields, autonomous tractors and other smart agricultural machinery.

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