Tokyo, Aug. 25 (Jiji Press)–Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate in fiscal 2020 fell to the lowest level since the statistics began in 1965, the agriculture ministry said Wednesday.
The rate stood at 37 pct for the year through March this year, down 1 percentage point from the preceding year, matching the record low marked in fiscal 1993 and fiscal 2018.
Comparing figures after the decimal point, however, the latest rate was 37.17 pct, lower than the results in fiscal 1993, when Japan was hit by a historically poor rice harvest, and fiscal 2018, when the country suffered bad weather.
The calorie-based food self-sufficiency rate declined due to a continued drop in rice consumption and a decline in wheat production after the previous year’s strong harvest.
Demand for rice, which has supported the country’s food self-sufficiency, is on a declining trend reflecting a decrease in the population and a diversified diet.
It is uncertain whether the government will be able to achieve its target of raising the food self-sufficiency rate to 45 pct in fiscal 2030, as the rate has stayed below 40 pct for over 10 years.
The self-sufficiency rate was unchanged at 98 pct for rice while falling by 2 points to 15 pct for wheat.
The rate remained 11 pct for beef. Japan relies heavily on imports of feed for beef cattle.
For livestock overall, the rate stood at 16 pct.
In terms of production value, the overall food self-sufficiency rate rose 1 point to 67 pct.
The growth resulted from increased opportunities to eat at home amid the coronavirus crisis and an increasing trend to prefer domestic produce including meat. It also reflected a fall in imports of seafood and livestock items.
The ministry is working to “strengthen (the rate) by item, such as wheat, promoting a shift from imports to domestic produce,” an official said.
“It’s important to ensure that (the public) understands the situation of Japanese food production better and buys domestic items more,” the official added.