Department of Bioproduction Science
The growth capability of primary industries in Japan, such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries, has been declining due to an aging population, a reduction in the labor force and a decrease in production. As a result of this, the reality is that these industries do not have the pulling power to attract young people like other industries do. In my subject of Bioresource Economics, students conduct research in order to devise mechanisms and systems to remedy this situation. As part of this process we use economic theory as well as quantitative methods used in economics. In my research laboratory, students conduct research using methods in particular from the fields of resource economics and environmental economics.
In resource economics, students conduct research on mechanisms and systems conducive to the sustainable use of bioresources on farmland, in forests and at sea from a micro perspective, for the purpose of effectively using scarce resources. Specifically, we would like to guide the students’ research in new mechanisms in which not only producers but also consumers can be involved in the production of agricultural, forestry, and fishing products, such as in the rice paddy ‘owner’ system which has been in the limelight in recent years.
In environmental economics, students conduct research from a macro perspective to alleviate environmental damage due to the economic activities of humans. They focus on mechanisms and systems to solve problems such as the stagnation of productivity due to global warming and the disruption of biodiversity, in addition to food contamination and disruption of ecosystems due to genetically modified crops and pesticides/herbicides. One current issue we are eager to work on is related to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident. We would like to obtain evidence to dispel the currently circulating rumors that have come about as a result of a fear of radioactive contamination of agricultural products and seafood, and work on measures to solve the problems.
Using economic methods, we would love to work together with our students to explore mechanisms and systems to revitalize and further develop primary industries.
My subject of animal nutrition science involves studying the mechanisms of how livestock digest, absorb and use feed, the nutritional needs of the animals for maintaining health and growing, and the properties of feed such as the chemical components, for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of animal husbandry in producing animal products such as milk, meat and eggs from cows, pigs, chickens and other livestock. Our research is focused on resources previously un-used as animal feed, so that in the future Japan could potentially move away from a 75% reliance on imported feed, to a livestock farming industry in which the feed is grown domestically.
Since consumption of rice has decreased and there is a necessity to produce crops other than rice in the paddy fields, we have planted rice for feed crops which will then be harvested, stalks and heads, to undergo a lactic fermentation process for cow fodder. Japan is hot and humid in summer so grass resources are plentiful. We are also trying to make cow and sheep fodder from the wild reeds that sprout in uncultivated rice paddies and riverbeds. In addition, we are also conducting an experiment on grazing Japanese cattle (wagyu) on derelict farmland in mountain foothills. Since the foothill area is overgrown with bamboo, we have also begun research into using cut bamboo as animal feed. We are also considering using the huge amounts of fish scraps discarded at fish markets for pig and chicken feed.
This research into creating feed sources is not just for trying to produce feed, but aims to use rice paddies effectively, preserve the beauty of derelict farmland and riverbeds through weed removal, preserve foothill areas and help with processing waste materials. We continue to progress our research together with local farmers, NPOs, companies, land improvement districts, the Agriculture and Forestry Promotion Office, testing and research organizations in Ishikawa Prefecture, and the Prefectural Office.
The research involves going to agricultural production sites and meeting the local people. We need to try and increase animal feed resources and preserve the land and the environment, so why not join us?