Japanese Government to boost indoor cultivation – Housed vegetable growing will ‘create jobs, aid food security’
Tokyo, Japan. A man tends a tomato plant in Pasona O2, an artificially lit and computer controlled greenhouse built in the basement of a high rise building in the business district of Tokyo on February 15, 2005 in Tokyo, Japan. Pasona Inc, a human resources service company, built the greenhouse in order to introduce the pleasure of agriculture also to train aspiring farmers in the city. The basement space was once used as a vault by Resona Bank Limited. Photo by Junko Kimura
Japanese Government to boost indoor cultivation
The Yomiuri Shimbun
Apr. 10, 2009
The government is set to launch full-scale efforts to promote indoor agricultural facilities to ensure stable cultivation of fruits and vegetables, government officials said.
As part of a three-year plan to boost the number of indoor growing facilities about fourfold, to 150, and raise production about fivefold, the government will offer incentives including low-interest financing and a capital investment tax credit, the officials said.
Besides responding to rising industry demand for safe and reliable food supplies, the government hopes the move also will create employment opportunities. The plan is expected to be included in the additional economic stimulus package currently being compiled by the government and ruling parties.
Indoor growing facilities use air-conditioning to maintain consistent temperature and humidity. Computer controls ensure optimal conditions are maintained for cultivating produce, including the proper mix of carbon dioxide, light and water, appropriate temperature and nutrients for growth.
Indoor cultivation also makes it easy to maintain uniform quality and shape, and renders pesticide use unnecessary.
Industries including major food producers already are operating 40 such indoor growing facilities nationwide. About 10 types of produce, including lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries are being cultivated inside them. Officials added it is possible to cultivate lettuce 20 times a year in the indoor factories.
Meanwhile, the government envisages further indoor agricultural facilities being set up on demolished factory sites, unused or abandoned farmland, or even inside vacant stores within shopping districts.
The government hopes the measures will make use of idle land and help farming villages affected by the aging population, and in turn, lead to a rise in job opportunities.
The government also is set to introduce new legislation to address the problem of vague zoning restrictions for factories that combine agricultural and factory functions, which until now have not been clearly defined, the officials added.
Construction costs for a large indoor growing facility can easily reach hundreds of millions of yen. In addition, air-conditioning costs push the retail price of vegetables and fruits cultivated in indoor growing facilities two to three times higher than ordinary produce.
The government aims to bring down production costs by about 30 percent over the project’s three-year time frame by introducing measures to promote the adoption of energy-saving technologies.