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New firm for large-scale rice farming to help nation tackle looming changes in agriculture environment

JIJI

A new company aiming to mediate between rice producers, mass merchants and consumers was established Monday, led by agricultural corporations in Akita Prefecture and the city of Sendai.

The move is part of efforts to prepare for rapid changes in the competitive environment for agriculture, including Japan’s participation in Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade talks and the planned abolition of rice production adjustments in five years.

The new firm is based in the village of Ogata, Akita Prefecture.

It was chiefly founded by Ogatamura Akitakomachi Seisansha Kyokai, an Ogata firm selling rice online to individual customers nationwide, and Butai Farm, a Sendai company working to promote large-scale rice farming and industrialize farming through combining production, processing and distribution including direct sales and restaurant management.

Toru Wakui, who heads the Ogata company, became the president of the new firm called the Rice Industry Organization of East Japan, or RIO East.

The new company hopes to expand rice sales, including to mass retailers and restaurants. It will determine demand so it can produce the appropriate amount and quality of rice.

It will lease farming equipment in cooperation with manufacturers and leasing firms for joint use by agricultural corporations and farmers across several prefectures. It has plans to develop a loan program for farmers in partnership with financial institutions.

Within five years, the new company aims to achieve sales of ¥15 billion, with 10,000 hectares under cultivation by farmers and agricultural corporations that invest in or cooperate with the company.