Business

Japan farming co-op federation to resume Niigata rice exports to China this month

JIJI

The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations (JA Zen-Noh) will resume sales of rice produced in Niigata Prefecture to China later this month after a break of nearly eight years.

Niigata rice exports were suspended following the triple core meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant due to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

JA Zen-Noh, the business and marketing arm of the Japanese agricultural cooperatives group (JA), will resume Niigata rice sales in Shanghai later this month on a trial basis.

The group aims to expand Japanese rice sales in the massive Chinese market amid falling domestic consumption.

China, which has a population of more than 1.3 billion, lifted its ban on Niigata rice in November last year.

The export resumption is “a landmark event” that will be appreciated by producers, agriculture minister Takamori Yoshikawa said at a ceremony in Yokohama on Tuesday to mark the occasion.

JA Zen-Noh President Genichi Jinde said he regards the resumption as “the first step” in efforts to expand rice sales overseas.

JA Zen-Noh will sell a total of 500 bags each containing 2 kg of polished Niigata rice in Shanghai, targeting wealthy consumers. The organization plans to expand its Chinese sales network to cover Beijing and other cities.

China introduced its import restrictions on Japanese farm and fishery products in April 2011. The regulations still affect products produced in 10 prefectures including Fukushima.

China also maintains import restrictions on Niigata products other than rice.

The government aims to increase Japan’s annual exports of farm, forestry and fishery products plus food to ¥1 trillion in 2019.

The exports totaled ¥807.1 billion in 2017, of which rice accounted for only ¥3.2 billion.