Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Death of farming in Japan?
Are there fewer natural farmers in Japan today than during the years Fukuoka was farming?
I doubt it. Natural farming was rare then but is probably no rarer today. Fukuoka advocates exist here and there, and the influence of Kawaguchi remains strong. Evidence is to be had in Yuka Arai's little book, "People Living in Natural Farming" (ISBN 978-4-916110-40-4), which lists no fewer than 45 locations in Japan where natural farming is now practiced. Arai provides many recent color photographs showing happy natural farming families posing with their produce. Kawaguchi himself is shown on the first few pages. Looking for natural farmers is like looking for vegans; they are there, but don't expect them to dominate the landscape.
New Orleans, LA
--- On Sun, 4/5/09, Gloria C. Baikauskas <gloriawb@...> wrote:
From: Gloria C. Baikauskas <gloriawb@...>
Subject: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Death of farming in Japan?
Date: Sunday, April 5, 2009, 10:18 PM
It's one time one has to wish Fukuoka got it wrong. As usual, he didn't.
One wonders how many will starve before 'they' get it right? Bigger is not better.
Gloria, Texas, USA
--- In fukuoka_farming@ yahoogroups. com, Ohkubo-Covert <inochi4@... > wrote:
> Hello friends,
> Although I'm not a farmer in the Fukuoka tradition (not yet, anyway),
> nevertheless I am living now in western Japan and have been reading
> up on the late Fukuoka-sensei' s writings and philosophy on natural
> farming. Like many of you, I am deeply inspired by him and his life,
> and want to carry on his ideas.
> It is great to follow all the sharing from various countries here on
> this list about the future of farming. I have learned many things in
> the short time I have been on the list.
> Speaking of the future of farming, there is a story on Japanese
> farming in today's International Herald Tribune newspaper. It is also
> carried on the website of the New York Times, at this link:
> > http://www.nytimes com/2009/ 03/29/world/ asia/29japan. html?
> > scp=1&sq=Shonai& st=cse
> In short, the story seems to sound the death knell on farming in
> contemporary Japan. An aging population, a bloated bureaucracy and
> liberalized trade are cited as some of the factors for this.
> The New York Times reporter cites the "woefully inefficient family
> farms" in Japan as the root cause behind it all. And the proposed
> solution? "The creation of larger, more efficient [read: American-
> style] farms"!
> Though the article is a bit depressing, it is not totally unexpected.
> As I understand it, Fukuoka had been predicting this very scenario
> for Japan just a few short decades ago. Yet few took him seriously,
> and now (quote-unquote) "some sort of dead end" is being forecast for
> the future of Japanese agriculture. How far Japan has yet to go
> before it gets anywhere near to accepting the possibilities that
> Fukuoka himself embraced and had proven as *truly* efficient in a
> much more holistic way.
> Anyway, very sorry if this posting is off topic. Just wanted to
> extend my greetings from Japan and share this story with you. Will
> continue to enjoy being a member of the list, and hopefully will get
> to the point someday soon where I can join you in putting some of
> Fukuoka's ideas into practice where I live now.
> Warm regards,
> Brian Ohkubo Covert
> Kawanishi, Hyogo, Japan
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- "The New York Times reporter cites the "woefully inefficient family
farms" in Japan as the root cause behind it all. And the proposed
solution? "The creation of larger, more efficient [read: American-
The problem with agriculture today is that there is always going to be someone who can produce cheaper than you can. It has been shown (Acres USA)that for every 1% rise in imports, domestic prices fall 10%, or something to that effect. I'll try to get sound numbers later.
But, when a country fails to feed itself, it opens the door for fascism and the like. We must continue to feed the people of our own countries. And Natural Farming is a good place to start.
- There is no point in lamenting the demise of traditional farming if we at the same time continue to enjoy all the comforts provided by modern life which are at the root of the problem. Those who put their money where their mouth is will have to give up PCs, Internet, cars, traveling, TVs, comfortable homes, far-distant travel, social services and much more.
Fukuoka started the last work he wrote before his death with the lines:
First of all, throw it all away,
the handcuffs of time, the shackles of money.
Or in Japanese:
ichiban hajime ni suterya yoi
tejou no tokei ashikase okane
Since you are still reading this, I suppose you are not quite ready to take his advice yet.
The introduction of industrial methods into agriculture took place in the 1950s and 60s in Europe and probably even earlier in the US. This is a logical consequence of the increase in material wealth in other sectors of society. Nobody is going to stay a farmer for long if he can only earn a fraction of what the factory worker's salery next door. Hence, Fukuoka’s works published in the 70s can hardly be described as prophetic nor do they offer any practical solutions. In fact, the few political of social measures he suggested would most certainly have led to total catastrophe.
In Japan, this process was delayed by a combination of protectionist policies and a monopolistic food distribution system. The coalition of right wing parties that formed the LDP after the war continued to hold government almost without interruption for over 50 years. The rural population and in particular the farmers are the power base of this corrupt and not very democratic system. Farmers tend to vote conservative in most countries. Thus, to keep out foreign agricultural goods has always been a priority of every Japanese government.
The monopolistic distribution system resulted in exorbitant prices for Japanese consumers. When we first moved to Japan 30 years ago, one neatly wrapped apple cost as much as half a dozen apples cost in Europe at the time.
Nevertheless, the wealth of Japan and the wealth of its farmers depend entirely on the industrial goods Japan exports to the rest of the World. This created an enormous trade imbalance and penalized in particular poor developing countries. In the 1990s, the US used the Super 401 trade bill to force Japan to open its market for supercomputers, satellites, plywood and oranges. I followed the negotiations in Tokyo on behalf of my then employer. A few years later, the market for rice was opened for the first time to a limited contingent of foreign rice. This benefited mainly Southeast Asian nations. I remember Japanese friends having emotional upheavals at the idea of maybe having to eat some foreign rice, but I think emotions have somewhat calmed down in the meantime.
There is nothing surprising about the current development except that it didn’t take place 40 years earlier.