The government expressed hope Tuesday that baby boomers, who will begin retiring next year, will take an interest in becoming farmers and help revive the moribund agricultural sector.
In a fiscal 2005 white paper on agriculture approved by the Cabinet, the government also emphasized the need to support large-scale farmers to speed the restructuring of the industry and to enhance its competitiveness.
The report says the agriculture sector faces a critical situation due to the aging of the farming workforce and an increase in abandoned farmland.
It is an “urgent task” for the government to concentrate support for farmers operating above a certain scale, who will become the pillars of the nation’s agriculture, instead of equally supporting all farmers, the white paper says.
Specifically, the government will encourage the establishment of agricultural corporations and the development of cooperatives.
The report notes that many people who have taken up farming in recent years are middle-aged and elderly people.
It says about 80,000 people became first-time farmers in 2003, with those aged 50 or older accounting for more than 70 percent of the total, or about 59,000 people. Those aged 39 and younger, who it is hoped will support the industry in the future, accounted for about 12,000 of the new farmers.
The government hopes to draw more baby boomers into agriculture, saying it is “important to secure enthusiastic and capable human resources as a workforce in agriculture in a variety of ways.”
The report calls for an increase in the nation’s agricultural self-sufficiency from 40 percent on a caloric basis at present to 45 percent by fiscal 2015, through nutritional education at home and school and by promoting consumption of locally produced food.
The report says an “aggressive” agricultural policy is needed, and calls for more exports of farm produce.
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