In many parts of the country, wild animals are being targeted for food as well as to protect farmers’ crops.
In the Chubu region, two nonprofit organizations from Aichi Prefecture — Chubu Ryoyukai (Hunters Group in Chubu) in Okazaki and Voluntary Neighbors in Nagoya — are planning to start a business supplying boar meat and venison to restaurants.
According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, boars caused about ¥5.4 billion worth of crop damage in fiscal 2008, while deer caused about ¥5.8 billion — losses that have sparked a nationwide movement to hunt wild animals for cooking.
Chubu Ryoyukai is based in the old Nukata area of Okazaki. After driving through the small villages and rice paddies dotting its low mountains, the office comes into sight in the form of a remodeled house, with a large refrigerator inside.
“There are some areas where an entire rice field was completely destroyed by wild animals,” said Hajime Hiasa, 64, a Ryoyukai representative.
According to Hiasa, boars have been observed encroaching even as near as the group’s office. His volunteer team has been working hard to get the business rolling as soon as possible.
Hiasa is reputed to be a skillful hunter but actually runs an iron factory by profession. For about 10 years, his company has developed, manufactured and sold iron cages to farmers hoping to protect their farms from wild animals. Since then, a few dozen cages have been installed, mainly in the Mikawa region.
Once Hiasa is informed of a trapped boar, he heads to the site and butchers it. With the rice harvest under way, seven boars were caught in just three days late last month.
What has Hiasa concerned is the issue of handling game meat. Commercializing such meat requires a butcher’s license and a slaughterhouse that meets the standards of the Food Sanitation Law.
So far, Hiasa has had no choice but to share the fresh boar and deer meat with his coworkers and friends.
“With the license, I will openly sell the meat,” he said.
If he can get a butchering facility launched, he is willing to commercialize the business and supply meat from about 200 animals to restaurants in Nagoya.
In an effort to hire new staff for the business, the group plans to make use of a government employment promotion fund set up for local areas. Under the scheme, Aichi Prefecture entrusts the business to the NPO Voluntary Neighbors, which coordinates citizen activities and is collaborating with Chubu Ryoyukai.
New hire Yuji Kawai, a 42-year-old who recently quit his office job in Nagoya, has been receiving training from Hiasa to prepare for the opening of the slaughterhouse. Kawai is expected to dress boar and deer meat, and the NPO will pay him a salary from the government job fund.
Voluntary Neighbors is also responsible for developing new sales channels — a factor that could prove crucial to the plan’s success.
“Many restaurants that serve game meat as a ‘gibier’ dish largely depend on imported meat. I hope they will use domestically hunted boar or deer meat in the future,” said Mitsuo Onishi, 64, who heads the organization.
Dining Bar Cream, a restaurant in Naka Ward, Nagoya, is one of the establishments that sympathizes with Onishi’s mission. The eatery has added venison and boar meat to the menu and is hoping to further strengthen ties with the NPOs going forward.
This section, appearing Saturdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published Sept. 6.
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