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In Pursuit of Food
How we should farm, eat, and live today
  Japan Organic Agriculture Association

     What is organic agriculture?

  Organic agriculture can be described as:
  1) Creating living soil;
  2) Growing a mixture of crops on suitable land at the right time;
  3) Living in harmony with insects, birds, and all other living creatures;
  4) Respecting Nature's cycles and preserving the environment;
  5) Organically linking producers and consumers, and nurturing a friendly relationship where food has a 'face'.

  Located in the temperate monsoon zone of Asia, Japan enjoys mountainous topography, abundant water systems, and fertile ground to cultivate local agriculture and food culture. In the context of Japan's several-thousand-year history of farming, so-called modern agriculture's current dependence on synthetic pesticides and chemical fertilizers dates back no more than a matter of decades. And yet, from a health, safety, and environmental viewpoint, as well as in productivity and soil fertility, we are already seeing signs of failure. While organic agriculture continues to draw upon the accumulated wisdom of traditional agriculture's long history, it also works to create new ways to grow and enjoy food.

     JOAA in the face of modern agriculture

  Considered one of society's most important industries, present day agriculture makes use of large amounts of synthetic chemical pesticides and chemical fertilizers, causing damage to human health and the environment. The tremendous degree of market saturation achieved by industrialized and foreign-imported food products has produced modern-day illnesses. At the same time, Japan's food culture and eating habits continue to move farther from what is local and natural.

  The original JOAA statement of purpose, written in 1971, still rings true today: "The so-called modernization (of agriculture) has been promoted primarily from a capitalist viewpoint, one from which it is extremely difficult to hold out hope and positive expectations for the future of our Nation's agriculture. Fundamentally, it is important that agriculture not be considered only from a financial standpoint, but with health and national survival as priorities over economic concerns. This perspective requires that we not only hold out hope and expectations in these difficult times, but immediately address the extreme underlying problems in current Japanese agriculture. If current farming techniques are efficacious and rational, but compromise product quality, safety and taste, threaten farm workers' health, or through mismanagement of crops and animal waste hinder the cultivation of soil fertility or environmental preservation, then these techniques must be rejected out of hand. Meanwhile, we must continue to develop appropriate alternative technologies."

  Organic farms throughout Japan recycle resources back into the farm or surrounding area. Many are self-sufficient in compost, fodder, and seed, while growing a true cornucopia of foods for the Japanese table. Farms with livestock reduce waste through efficient management of materials to sustain an ecological balance. To deepen mutual understanding between producers and consumers, a large number of farms offer voluntary farm product delivery through teikei (Japanese word for producer-consumer alliance), which aligns farmers' hard work with a fair price paid directly by the consumer. This continuous delivery of food from producers to urban citizens builds friendly and supportive relationships while furthering the basic principles of organic agriculture.

The Ten Principles of Organic Agriculture:

--From JOAA's Basic Criteria for Organic Agriculture 1999--

  1. Principle of production of safe, high-quality food
  Farmers should produce an adequate quantity of safe, high-quality food to contribute to sound eating habits.

  2. Principle of preserving the environment
  By minimizing pollution and environmental destruction resulting from agriculture, we ensure a healthy ecosystem for all microorganisms, plants, and animals.

  3. Principle of living with nature
  Efficient use of regional renewable resources and energy better utilizes the production power of nature.

  4. Principle of regional self-sufficiency and systems
  A truly closed system includes both regional food self-sufficiency and renewable resource and energy independence.

  5. Principle of preserving and nurturing soil fertility
  Cultivating better soil fertility creates living soil.

  6. Principle of protecting the diversity of life
  Plant and animal diversity, whether cultivated or wild, is a key component of sustainable organic agriculture.

  7. Principle of ensuring a humane environment
  Sound management of livestock and poultry includes respect for their natural behavioral instincts.

  8. Principle of protection of fair and just working conditions
  A safe and healthy working environment ensures financial self-sufficiency and a feeling of satisfaction through adequate remuneration and fair work.

  9. Principle of producer and consumer alliance
  The goals of organic agriculture are advanced through friendly relationships between producers and consumers based on mutual understanding and trust.

  10. Principle of spreading the value of agriculture and building up society's respect for life
  Value must be placed upon the societal, cultural, educational, and ecological significance of agriculture and farming communities; respect for life by all citizens is essential.