By MSc-students Sacha Buisman and Susanne Maenen (pictures).
It is the third day of the Kyoto Graduate Seminar on Economic Development and Sustainability. Three professors, respectively called sensei, from the Kyoto University gave lectures today on topics related to the theme: ‘agriculture, environment and sustainability’. The whole week, we will discuss a wide range of themes with a very multi-disciplinary group of students coming from Thailand, Laos, Korea, Denmark, the UK and Wageningen. In the city where the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997 and in the country where there was a massive nuclear disaster in 2011, we will look back at the economic development of the Asian continent while we try to envision possible sustainable pathways for the future economic developments. Today we discussed if, and how, economic growth and environmental conservation can be achieved simultaneously. In the last lecture of today we looked at food security from a Japanese perspective. One of the main challenges that Japan faces, just like almost every other country in the world, is the population shift from the rural areas to the urban areas. The average age of a Japanese farmer is 65 years, which will soon cause the diminishing of active farmers and the utilization of farm-land. How is the Japanese politics responding to this scenario? Mainly by following the US way of reasoning: ‘increase the efficiency and the productivity’. Which might be not the right solution, given the fact that a Japanese farm has an average of 2 hectare farmland. There are multiple Japanese bottom-up movements, such as the shura ku-eino (village farming collectives), who suggest ‘another’ sustainable pathways that focuses on small-scale farming of ‘diverse local actors with a diverse and multi-layered commitment’. Continue reading