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Shigenobu Fukumoto was born into a farming family close to Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture. Growing up in the early 1970s surrounded by fields of rice, carrots, cabbage and green onions, Fukumoto and his family were representative of Japan’s 5.5 million farming households.

As Fukumoto, 49, recounts while walking through a field of naganegi — a type of green onion — his parents were “small quantity, large variety” farmers, and in every sense typical. Fast forward nearly 50 years and the picture is radically different.

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