Israel, Japan to establish shared agricultural R&D fund

Agriculture Min. Shamir made the announcement following a meeting in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart.

Yair Shamir 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Yair Shamir 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Due to the high level of agricultural technology expertise in both countries, Israel and Japan will establish a shared fund for research and development, Agriculture Minister Yair Shamir announced on Monday.
“The breakthrough between Israel and Japan in agriculture, as we did in the field of hi-tech, will be made possible by establishing a common agricultural research and development fund,” the minister said.
Shamir made the announcement following a meeting in Tokyo with his Japanese counterpart, Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi. Japan, he stressed, is a natural partner to Israel in forging forward with agricultural research and development due to the ingenuity that takes place in both countries. The current volume of agricultural trade occurring between the two nations is still limited relative to its potential, at only about $80 million, according to data from the ministry.
During his trip to Japan, Shamir spent time with Hayashi touring fishing areas, seeing greenhouse development, examining the use of treated wastewater and looking at the dairy industry’s growth – all of which may be potential topics for future research and development cooperation, the ministry explained.
The two ministers also discussed the possibility of opening up the Japanese market to fresh agricultural produce from Israel – particularly crops such as peppers, spices, carrots and amaryllis bulbs. Due to Japan’s stringent regulations on crop protection, such exports had not been possible for a long time, the Agriculture Ministry said. However, due to Israel’s existing export agreements with the United States and the European Union, Japan has expressed greater willingness to promote the proceedings necessary to grant approval to the import of Israeli crops.
An additional goal of Shamir’s visit to Japan was to promote a conference of the International Dairy Federation that will be held next October in Israel, which should draw more than 2,000 participants from 54 countries and represent about 90 percent of the world’s dairy market, the ministry said.
“I was impressed that there is a great appreciation for the scientific and technological capabilities of the State of Israel in the field of agriculture,” Shamir said after the visit. “The Japanese government wants to increase the involvement of Israeli companies in the country’s fields of agriculture and water and I believe that this joint research and development fund is a most effective platform toward achieving this goal.”
Three years ago, Israel established a similar such fund with Italy and last year added $500,000 to each of its existing funds with Germany and China, according to the ministry.
Emphasizing that Japan successfully maintains the third biggest economy in the world, Shamir also praised the country for increasing its openness to partners across the globe.
“Japan’s efforts to upgrade its agricultural sector with exposure to competition and to bring back young people to engage in the field – by means of the import and implementation of new technologies, among other things – beckon Israel to an opportunity in the agriculture industry,” Shamir said.