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Director: Jun Murai (Professor, Faculty of Environment and Information Studies)
Japan, a country that can boast top-level agricultural technology and a superlative distribution system
Japan has achieved a very high level of agricultural technology and has been very effective in putting it to practical use. It has also realized a distribution system that can provide high quality agricultural products at reasonable prices.
"Expertise of Takumi" is the "judgment" capability necessary to identify and apply the most appropriate farming methods in accordance with an accurate understanding of crop conditions and the natural environment. There have been certain initiatives aimed at generalization and creation of instructional guidelines regarding the "expertise of Takumi," and although this has been successful in describing the procedures for Takumi "farming methods," it has been difficult to see any tangible results to date as it has proven impossible to describe "judgment" in terms of conditions.
However, "judgment" actually utilized by exemplary farmers can be clarified further through analysis of the correlation between "crop conditions and the natural environment" and "farming methods." Through this, "farming methods" with a more advanced capacity for "judgment" will be generated.
The same situation can be observed in the area of distribution. Experienced distributors use their "judgment" regarding the distribution method for agricultural products to identify product conditions, and deliver products to consumers in the best possible condition. For example, it is sometimes not appropriate to distribute products at a constant temperature, but rather necessary to create a more appropriate environment according to the growth environment or the ripeness level of the product. Product values can be maximized when products are delivered to consumers in the best condition according to "judgment." If we ignore such "judgment" and standardize operational procedures and data exchange structures, we cannot generate any real values.
In order to improve values within the entire agricultural industry in Japan and establish a "Made in Japan" brand with quality, it is vital to realize a "standardization" strategy with a "comprehensive production and sales system for valuable agricultural products." This means a shift from the segment specific approach to "expertise of Takumi" according to individual production and distribution scenarios.
In FY 2009, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, Keio University was engaged to popularize and spread exemplary farmers' "expertise of Takumi" under The AI Research Group. In FY 2008 and FY 2009, the university was entrusted by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to work on a project to develop sales solutions for fresh food products based on the "judgment" possessed by experienced distribution and retail professionals. Through these projects, we have connected "production" and "distribution" and come to focus on "structures for production and sales for valuable agricultural products."
Following on from these activities, this consortium will conduct the three core projects shown below as mid-long term development measures for the agriculture industry in Japan, focusing on "expertise of Takumi" or "judgment" of experienced farmers, distributors and retailers.
To date, Keio University has been active in conducting projects on popularization and the spread of the Internet. In light of these existing initiatives, this consortium will aim at the development of a platform that will shape "structures for production and sales for valuable agricultural products," supported by one of the most advanced agricultural technology bases in the world. This is to be pursued in order to realize "aggressive agriculture," not just an argument for standardization.
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