Makoto Nagasawa, president of Fruta Fruta Inc., delivered a speech at the seminar hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on June 22.
Following are the excerpts from his speech.
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Agroforestry means building forests through agriculture. My first encounter with agroforestry was back in 2000. It was in Tome-acu in northern Brazil. I was deeply impressed. I realized that land made barren could be revived by agriculture, which is an economic activity.
Japanese immigrants in Brazil made a fortune in the past by growing pepper. But a plant disease severely damaged the crops, and the fields became almost blighted. Their survival at stake, the immigrants studied the formation of the jungles and experimented with mixed planting of diverse plants that fit the ecosystem. The fields they planted with tens of cash crops such as bananas, coconuts, rubber and mahogany flourished with tall trees and low shrubs, producing fruits of all kinds around the year and ultimately yielding fine timber.
I founded Fruta Fruta in 2002, wishing to contribute to the preservation of forests by creating demand and a market for Tome-acu's produce. We import fruit materials and others from the local agricultural cooperative, and we are their exclusive distributor in Japan.
But since it is impossible for just one company to single-handedly support agroforesty, I have been inviting other corporations to form an alliance with us. If each member company buys materials produced by the agroforestry method and adds value to them by mixing them with their own products, demand will grow.
I also propose that a third-party organ be appointed to give its "seal of approval" to the products, so that consumers will feel safe about buying them.
I think that creating a market in the Northern Hemisphere and getting the Southern Hemisphere to produce the crops can help ease poverty in the developing world and bring about a "green economy."
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