Speech by Yoshitaka Mashima, Vice Chairperson of NOUMINREN, Japan

Thank you Mr. Chairperson, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for giving me this opportunity. I am from a farmer’s organization called Japan Family Farmers Movement, NOUMINREN, a member of La Via Campesina.

 Not only in Japan but in the world, the price collapse of agricultural products is a very serious issue. In Japan, the producer’s price of rice has dropped 40% in these ten years. The daily wage of rice farmer has become almost equal to the hourly wage of factory worker. I mean, farmer’s income is about an eighth of factory worker’s. This situation makes many farmers give up on rice producing.

 This is caused by the unwanted rice import forced by WTO and the abolishment of price support for farmers by the government.

Rather than reviewing its policy, the Japanese government tries to change the agrarian reform that was implemented just after World War II. The government wants to reduce the size of agricultural production admitting a corporation can use farm land for commercial use, that is prohibited by the Agricultural Land Law, the outcome of the agrarian reform.

To make this world to be free from hunger, each nation should increase its food production as the top priority. In this situation, the agricultural policies of Japan is opposing to the alternative movement for reducing hunger and achieving genuine agrarian reform. The Japanese population is only 2% of the world population, but Japan purchases 10% of the food that is traded in the world. Now, the Japanese government tries to rob farmlands from farmers, import more food and deepen the distortion that already exists in the world food distribution. This cannot be allowed.

The South East and East Asia region that occupies 36% of the world population has become the largest importer of grains and soybean. In this situation, I should say that I cannot expect optimistically the goals of World Food Summit can be achieved by the year 2015.

The only way to achieve the goals for making this world free from poverty and hunger is neither by free trade nor by industrial agriculture like applying of GMOs. Food Sovereignty is the only possible way. FAO should return its original mandate as the most important international organization dealing with food and agriculture. Also,

FAO should strengthen the cooperation with farmer’s, fisher-folk’s or civil society organizations and work for establishing the production and trade system based on food sovereignty. Thanks for your listening.

Rome, Committee on Food Security – FAO, October 2006