Report: Best Practices in Promoting Innovation and Productivity in Agriculture for Mass Media Practitioners Study Mission, September 8-14, 2014, Japan

APO OSM on Mass Media, 2014

BACKGROUND OF THE PROJECT

The project aims to spread the word on APO’s work in supporting and promoting productivity and innovation programs of member-countries. APO has been doing good work but needs to further promote its own work to a wider audience. The OSM for Mass Media Practitioners was thus initiated to bridge the public with the work that APO and its member-countries are doing.

OBJECTIVES FOR PARTICIPATION

To learn of creative product promotion and innovative ways of boosting productivity for the agriculture sector that could provide a multiplier effect for communities, revive local markets, and increase/stabilize farmer incomes.

PROFILE OF PARTICIPANTS

There were two Filipino participants (a reporter from the Philippine Daily Inquirer and a freelance writer) in a group of 17 comprising print and broadcast media practitioners.

HIGHLIGHTS OF STUDY MISSION

1. A-Factory (Aomori) – Briefing on apple cider processing; Store and dining area multiplies value of traditional fruits, introducing new ways of consuming products (dry crispy apple chips and wedges, non-alcoholic apple cider, alcoholic apple cider, apple juice, apple sauce, apple cake, apple biscuits etc.)

2. Aomori prefectural office – Briefing about agriculture and related industries in Aomori (apples and other crops, tourism and home-stay promotion programs, farmer-storage-dealer connection, etc.); Understanding various government policies and support to local industries such as farming; Demonstrates role of government support in industry innovation

3. and 4. Taisei Industry (Cryotechnology) office and J.A. facility – How cryotechnology can help preserve agri produce better, making it possible to extend trading period after harvest; Principles of the technology and implementation; Production of cooler facilities for fruit preservation for long life till reaching market; Garlic Preservation; How cryotechnology was being used to store and preserve garlic for over 12 months so that the farmers can sell at the best price; Post harvest sorting and packaging of garlic.
Cooler facilitation till they reach market following price decision; Farmer-storage facilitator deal in buying produce; Freezer facilitations to preserve garlic til they reach market; Packing garlic for the retail market; Prices at the retail market and supermarket;

5. Paddy field art (2 sites) – Shows how village unity, through the community center and farmers working together, can result in innovative activities; How paddy art has helped in revival of the village economy and helped the village create a new expertise in terms of paddy art which merges the design and landscaping techniques and understanding of paddy cultivation; It is also a great learning about the marketing and promotional strategy that has led to increase in tourism and allied activities like merchandising;

6. Hirosaki Apple Park – Shows government role in pushing innovation, putting together eco-tourism (apple picking) and value-added product selling; Merchandising and value-added products, which is part of the Sixth-order industry policy in Japan; “Apple tourism” helps improve and supplement farmer’s income;

7. Cherry Center – Facility run by women-farmers shows highlights key role women play in agriculture and trade of farm produce; Give chances to farmer to gain higher income; Encourage the farmers to create processed products that gave added value; Easy access for farmer and costumer to meet each other, so farmer will gain higher price and customer gain fresh products give pride to woman farmers that they play important roles in economic activity independent farmers, the can decide their own price, not the wholesalers

8. Home stay program – Offers cultural as well as agricultural experience, since guest not only encounters the host/farming family but also the community; Gives extra income to farmers; Promoting the hospitality of Japanese farmer and farming lifestyle for tourism and attract young generation to farming activity;

9. Soba making – Appreciation of soba making by doing cooking class, like a farm-to-table program; Promoting subsectors of agriculture industry such as tourism; More revenue opportunity for the local SME sectors;

10. Fruit picking – Strategy of growing different kinds of fruits also spreads risks in farming, such as plant disease, seasonality, and changing trading prices of various fruits; Agri-tourism complements simply fruit production/selling; innovative approach for marketing of fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, grapes; Farm gets more income by selling direct to consumers through fruit shop;

11. Plant factory visit at Kashiwa-no-ha Smart city in Chiba – Innovation tackled was about controlled indoor plant production system; Benefits include offering options for places with harsh/contaminated/disaster-risk/urban setting; Aids in medical research and very high value food and specialized food production; Commercial application is not limited to food but also real estate (eco-furniture for homes, condominiums, classrooms, offices, malls) and scientific research; Makes it easier to encourage or interest young people in agriculture

12. Tsuji farm – Film agriculture technology is an innovation of current times, making plant nutrition and watering more controllable in greenhouse environment; Enables farmers to grow special products such as sweeter tomato, etc., resulting in good revenue; By using film technology, farmers can control many variables and can more easily train workers and/or apprentices; It is an attraction for the farmers who intend to enter into tomato growing by using film agriculture technology.

13. Moriuchi tea farm – How high quality of tea has helped the farmer earn more, nearly double the price; How by setting up own processing facility close to the tea plantation field the farmer can retain the freshness of tea and process it fast and better. This helps him command better price; Promotion of tea and visit my tourists help sell more produce locally;

14. Success story of tea wholesaler and tea processing factory Maeda Kinzaburo Shop – High quality tea processed through modern technology; Creating value-added products through innovation like flavored tea, tea-based bakery products and other merchandising; Innovating packaging for attracting tourists to buy tea and tea-based products as souvenir;

OUTCOMES AND EVALUATION

The trip enabled participants to gain valuable insights straight from the sources (resource speakers) and to see in actual settings the kind of innovations promoted by the APO. Speakers were knowledgeable and effective in their presentation.

RECOMMENDATIONS AND ACTION STEPS

Participants encouraged further OSMs for mass media practitioners to spread the word on innovative practices in APO member-countries and how APO is helping to promote such innovations. We would recommend that the Philippine NPO (DAP) and the Philippine government bring over some of the Japanese experts in this trip to the Philippines and talk to farmers about coming up with our own innovations. Our plan is to include learnings from the OSM in articles so that readers can learn of the possibilities in farming innovation and how to generate multiplier effect.

SUBMITTED BY:

RIZA OLCHONDRA
Reporter, Philippine Daily Inquirer

and

PACITA “CHIT” JUAN
Freelance writer

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