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Rice growing in Japan

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I have been wondering how much rice those little Paddy fields you see everywhere in Japan produce.
No one I have met that has been able to understand English enough to understand my question has known the answer.
This morning I successfully wasted a few hours figuring it out.

For Japan, growing Japonica rice, using 2014 mechanised farming:
1 hectare per year =
~ 6 tonnes unmilled rice
~ 3 tonnes milled rice
~ 280 hrs labour
~3,610,000 kilocalories

1 hectare is about a football field so most of the Paddies we see are about 1/3 a hectare. So:

1 Paddy per year =
~ 2 tonnes unmilled rice
~ 1 tonne milled rice
~ 2 hrs per week labour
~ Entire food requirements for 4 adults

All very rough numbers of course. But at least I have an answer now.

 

Links to data

http://ricepedia.org/japan (output per hectare milled / unmilled)

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/1126.aspx?categoryid=51 (kcal per day)

http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/est/COMM_MARKETS_MONITORING/Rice/Documents/Rice_Profile_Dec-06.pdf (nutrition for rice)

https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=wS5kcRvShg8C&pg=PA222&lpg=PA222&dq=japan+hrs+per+hectare+rice+production&source=bl&ots=xs2PC-dn4N&sig=YtP71A8zTzW84OMwrx8_D9lrguU&hl=en&sa=X&sqi=2&ved=0ahUKEwjis9X2pcTNAhWHH5QKHfEWDycQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=japan%20hrs%20per%20hectare%20rice%20production&f=false (hrs per hectare)

http://www.kier.kyoto-u.ac.jp/DP/DP475.pdf (hrs per hectare)

My eyes (size of a paddy)

 

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Once thing that is well known, is that they're very inefficient at growing it. The government heavily subsides/protects those farmers from imports.

 

recipedia

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I am not sure if the _farmers_ are incredibly inefficient at _growing_ it, 2 hrs a week to feed your family seems quite efficient and their output per hectare seems higher than many other countries.

 

But at a country level there is a huge inefficiency which I think boils down to:

  • Rice used to be a staple (makes sense given their resources)
  • Food security meant it was strongly protected by the government (most countries do this, makes sense)
  • Legal limits on conglomeration of farms meant most farms are still only about a hectare (not sure if this makes sense or not)
  • Increased mechanisation made rice farming a hectare able to be done "on saturday morning" instead of being a full time job
  • Modern options for food meant a decline in rice eating (people generally prefer burgers over rice worldwide, no different here)
  • A single company (not sure quite what this organisation is) handles most rice transactions and lobbies for the farmers

So rice farming became sort of "extra money on the weekend" thing and all those farmers represent a big political power which could take risks with negotiations over tariffs and support because most of the farmers had a "real" job. So with reduced demand but political clout came the "pay farmers to not grow rice" policies.

 

The rice price is falling anyway as sake and rice is being left for beer and meat. Californian rice costs about the same now but I think has been cheaper despite tariffs in the past.

 

Global trade agreements meant Japan had to open their rice market but most of that rice is either given to North Korea as foreign aid, fed to animals or just thrown away.

 

Japanese people I have spoken to think Californian rice is crap. But they all seem to think that government is trying to force them to eat imported rice by keeping local rice prices high which seems slightly backwards thinking to me.

 

So yeah there is a big problem with market efficiencies but it seems more political than anything else.

 

The bit I am not sure what I think about it is the anti conglomeration rules.

Given the layout and location of the paddy fields it would be hard to convert them into a single huge field without massive expenditure. Many of the fields are surrounded by roads only a single car wide.

So big combine harvester type operations are out of the question in most existing fields. I think that the big combine type operations are where the real efficiencies could be gained.

Most of the places I see are using machinery like this: http://www.farming-machine.com/product/harvesting-machine/paddy-harvester/driving-type-rice-harvester.html or this http://www.farming-machine.com/product/harvesting-machine/paddy-harvester/walking-type-small-rice-harvester.html

I sort of feel that keeping the farms small is actually pretty good food security for extreme situations.

So it kind of makes sense I suppose.

And given the internal food tourism thing that is absolutely mind blowingly huge here lots of small farms each claiming their own special properties does appeal to the national psyche.

 

I feel if the government dropped the subsidies and tariffs then people would still grow the rice as an exercise taking about as much time as mowing the lawn in Australia but with the bonus of getting some bucks for it. Seems a win / win for society I guess.

 

Anyway it is an interesting subject I am sure I will waste many more hours reading about.

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I am not sure if the _farmers_ are incredibly inefficient at _growing_ it, 2 hrs a week to feed your family seems quite efficient and their output per hectare seems higher than many other countries.

 

But at a country level there is a huge inefficiency which I think boils down to:

  • Rice used to be a staple (makes sense given their resources)
  • Food security meant it was strongly protected by the government (most countries do this, makes sense)
  • Legal limits on conglomeration of farms meant most farms are still only about a hectare (not sure if this makes sense or not)
  • Increased mechanisation made rice farming a hectare able to be done "on saturday morning" instead of being a full time job
  • Modern options for food meant a decline in rice eating (people generally prefer burgers over rice worldwide, no different here)
  • A single company (not sure quite what this organisation is) handles most rice transactions and lobbies for the farmers

So rice farming became sort of "extra money on the weekend" thing and all those farmers represent a big political power which could take risks with negotiations over tariffs and support because most of the farmers had a "real" job. So with reduced demand but political clout came the "pay farmers to not grow rice" policies.

 

The rice price is falling anyway as sake and rice is being left for beer and meat. Californian rice costs about the same now but I think has been cheaper despite tariffs in the past.

 

Global trade agreements meant Japan had to open their rice market but most of that rice is either given to North Korea as foreign aid, fed to animals or just thrown away.

 

Japanese people I have spoken to think Californian rice is crap. But they all seem to think that government is trying to force them to eat imported rice by keeping local rice prices high which seems slightly backwards thinking to me.

 

So yeah there is a big problem with market efficiencies but it seems more political than anything else.

 

The bit I am not sure what I think about it is the anti conglomeration rules.

Given the layout and location of the paddy fields it would be hard to convert them into a single huge field without massive expenditure. Many of the fields are surrounded by roads only a single car wide.

So big combine harvester type operations are out of the question in most existing fields. I think that the big combine type operations are where the real efficiencies could be gained.

Most of the places I see are using machinery like this: http://www.farming-machine.com/product/harvesting-machine/paddy-harvester/driving-type-rice-harvester.html or this http://www.farming-machine.com/product/harvesting-machine/paddy-harvester/walking-type-small-rice-harvester.html

I sort of feel that keeping the farms small is actually pretty good food security for extreme situations.

So it kind of makes sense I suppose.

And given the internal food tourism thing that is absolutely mind blowingly huge here lots of small farms each claiming their own special properties does appeal to the national psyche.

 

I feel if the government dropped the subsidies and tariffs then people would still grow the rice as an exercise taking about as much time as mowing the lawn in Australia but with the bonus of getting some bucks for it. Seems a win / win for society I guess.

 

Anyway it is an interesting subject I am sure I will waste many more hours reading about.

 

Japanese farmers can't compete with large acreage, highly mechanised growers like Australia. They don't have the economies of scale.

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Well yeah that is what I meant by "So big combine harvester type operations are out of the question in most existing fields. I think that the big combine type operations are where the real efficiencies could be gained."

 

From a food security point of view the tariffs etc make some sense given their inability to compete.

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From a food security point of view the tariffs etc make some sense given their inability to compete.

 

So from a manufacturing POV, Australia should implement high tariffs? Then we go back to the old days, where cars, electrical goods where very expensive and the local stuff was often of inferior quality due to lack of competition.

It's a bit like eating your cake & eating it at the same time.

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Well I was thinking specifically in regard to food security I can see an improved argument for the tariffs. Like if things go bad in a country one of the things I expect governments to do is ensure people don't starve. So while I am against tariffs as a basic starting point I think there is _an_ argument for supporting the industry. Manufacturing is a bit different, from memory the amount of cash poured into cars could have supported the same people on a basic wage basis (could be wrong).

 

I still feel that given

  • how easy the rice growing apparently is as a hobby farm thing
  • the love of the idea of "japanese rice" by japanese people
  • the volume of internal food tourism which would support the industry (I think)
  • how obviously retarded the current situation is

there is probably a system that would work better.

 

What does Australia do for farmers? I know the papers say they get tons of subsidies, water grants and so on (probably makes sense) but given the apparently incorrect views most japanese hold on the matter I am doubting my knowledge of Australian farming. I never really paid attention to it and just heard all the stuff when the chinese starting buying farms or something (cubby station and some stuff in WA from memory).

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Well I was thinking specifically in regard to food security I can see an improved argument for the tariffs. Like if things go bad in a country one of the things I expect governments to do is ensure people don't starve. So while I am against tariffs as a basic starting point I think there is _an_ argument for supporting the industry. Manufacturing is a bit different, from memory the amount of cash poured into cars could have supported the same people on a basic wage basis (could be wrong).

 

I still feel that given

  • how easy the rice growing apparently is as a hobby farm thing
  • the love of the idea of "japanese rice" by japanese people
  • the volume of internal food tourism which would support the industry (I think)
  • how obviously retarded the current situation is

there is probably a system that would work better.

 

What does Australia do for farmers? I know the papers say they get tons of subsidies, water grants and so on (probably makes sense) but given the apparently incorrect views most japanese hold on the matter I am doubting my knowledge of Australian farming. I never really paid attention to it and just heard all the stuff when the chinese starting buying farms or something (cubby station and some stuff in WA from memory).

 

Australian farmers are generally very cost competitive, which is why they are able to compete on the world stage. They get help from governments, usually during droughts and other natural disasters.

If the Japs want to impose tariffs on our rice exports, then Australia should do the same to Japanese imports. If I recall correctly, during these free trade agreements, not everything was included as 'free trade'.

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That sounds like opinion. Do you have links?

 

But most Australian rice won't sell here at any price, it is more in line with thai rice and is useless for japanese cooking styles as far as I can tell. Which is kind of why I think they should drop the tariffs and move to subsidies (like Australia if you are correct).

 

Personally I have always kind of liked basmati rice, it's okay if you get really good at making it. The Polish Princess simply refused to eat more than a small handful of rice in Australia no matter how well I had made it. Now that we have microwavable rice better than anything she ever had before she is okay with it. And when we eat good rice she loves it. If 7/11 can have a microwavable rice distinctly different to what I think was okay basmati then you are basically talking a different product.

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That sounds like opinion. Do you have links?

 

But most Australian rice won't sell here at any price, it is more in line with thai rice and is useless for japanese cooking styles as far as I can tell. Which is kind of why I think they should drop the tariffs and move to subsidies (like Australia if you are correct).

 

Personally I have always kind of liked basmati rice, it's okay if you get really good at making it. The Polish Princess simply refused to eat more than a small handful of rice in Australia no matter how well I had made it. Now that we have microwavable rice better than anything she ever had before she is okay with it. And when we eat good rice she loves it. If 7/11 can have a microwavable rice distinctly different to what I think was okay basmati then you are basically talking a different product.

 

ABC FactCheck

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I've dropped grains from my diet but used to eat basmati rice (the family still eat it). It goes well with Indian cuisines.

 

I can't imagine long-grain brown rice being used in sushi!

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That is interesting. Good to see my starting point of "tariffs are probably a bad idea" was a good starting point :)

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