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Japan's food self-sufficiency rate, on a calorie basis, remains low at around 40%. The nation depends on imports for its supply of main crops, but the United Nations forecasts that world population will exceed 8.5 billion in 2050, creating a global food shortage. The establishment of a stable crop production system is essential for the continued growth of Japan in the future.
While changes in industrial structure and so forth have led to a slump in agriculture, on a global scale Japan boasts a high level of agricultural technology. In particular, the productivity of some of Japan's skilled agrarian farmers is amongst the highest in the world. If the productivity of these skilled farmers could be passed on to others, this would not only improve Japan's food self-sufficiency rate, but also prove to be a means to avoid potential global food shortages. A lack of successors in agricultural communities and so forth, however, has prevented the passing on of this knowledge. There has been a huge increase in the number of plant factories in Japan recently, and while these plant factories are a valid way to obtain stable food production by farmers with little experience, their production efficiency is still well below that of the skilled farmers and much money is needed to construct the required facilities.
The Laboratory will focus on the tacit knowledge behind the productivity of Japan's skilled farmers, translate this into formal knowledge to be passed on and shared via an agricultural platform also to be generated by the Laboratory. The participation by IT companies in agriculture has been slow. By working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, other agriculture research facilities and IT companies from both Japan and abroad, the Laboratory will aim to build a platform that utilizes information technology in an attempt to improve the efficiency of agricultural production both in Japan and abroad. The Laboratory will also be building stronger ties with farmers in the Endo district in Fujisawa City and other local Kanagawa and Kanto regions and promote activities with these communities as an SFC community partnership model.