• Kyodo News


The farm ministry is hatching a “social capital” program to subsidize and revive cooperative activities in agricultural villages in a bid to turn around these aging communities’ fading fortunes.

Cooperative community activities have a long tradition of nourishing the core functions of farm life and production in Japan. But they are now on the verge of extinction as many of the farmers serving as community leaders have reached retirement, and the aging of these villages means there is a dearth of successors.

Against this backdrop, the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has developed a program tentatively called “Renovating Beautiful Hometown” to promote activities and projects aimed at reviving community gatherings and local businesses, ministry officials said.

Funding for the program will be included in the farm ministry’s budget request for fiscal 2008.

Given the deterioration of cooperative activities, the ministry has deemed it necessary to create a new type of community that encourages participation of not only farmers but also local young people and women, and residents of urban areas.

The ministry plans to support farming villages where residents are working together to deal with local problems, including those pertaining to administrative activities, public services and nursing care.

The villages are required to come up with their own plans to address such problems with the cooperation of local governments, agricultural organizations, citizens’ groups, businesses and universities.

The government funding will pay for community gatherings and the drafting of the plans, and the ministry will dispatch experts on nursing-care services and other areas as advisers.

The ministry will survey and analyze successful and unsuccessful cases of village revitalization so it can come up with and disseminate practical models.

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