The agriculture ministry plans to establish a new system for promoting urban agriculture by making it easier to rent farmland, ministry sources have said.

Currently, people who want to rent out farmland must get permission from their local agriculture committees. Under the proposed system, municipal governments, instead of local committees, would examine the prospective borrowers’ land-use plans and approve the rental proposal if it includes agricultural experience events, the supplying of food for school meals or other activities that support local communities.

The farm ministry will introduce the legislation to the Diet by March, the sources said Saturday. It also plans to request a revision to the tax system to ensure that farmland leasing will not be subject to inheritance tax payments, they added.

Many urban farmers are facing an aging agricultural workforce and problems finding successors from the younger generations.

Japan’s municipalities have designated an estimated 134 sq. km of land for urban agriculture. This land plays important roles by providing fresh food to local communities and serving as evacuation spots in times of disaster.

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