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2008年8月26日 (火)

新規需要米

(Aug. 26, 2008) The Yomiuri Shimbun

Expanding rice demand key to sustaining industry

新規需要米 増産で農業の基盤を守れ(826日付・読売社説)

New sources of demand for rice are attracting attention as the key to the thorny problem of how to lower the production of rice used as a staple food while at the same time raising the nation's food self-sufficiency rate.

主食用米の生産は減らし、食料自給率は引き上げるという難題を解くカギとして「新規需要米」が注目されている。

Demand is sharply rising for different varieties of rice that can be used for livestock feed or as rice flour for making bread or noodles in place of regular flour made from wheat.

急激に需要が伸びている家畜の飼料や、小麦粉代わりにパンやめんに使う米粉用のコメのことだ。

The production of rice for livestock feed or rice flour still only constitutes less than 1 percent of the output of rice as a staple food. But the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry intends to take advantage of rice produced for livestock feed or rice flour to help it raise the nation's food self-sufficiency rate from its current level of 40 percent to 50 percent.

生産量はまだ主食用米の1%にも満たないが、農林水産省は自給率を今の40%から50%に引き上げる一助にしたいという。

From fiscal 2009, the ministry will subsidize farmers who stop growing rice for consumption as a staple and instead switch to producing rice for other purposes, and also those farmers who grow rice for these purposes on idle farmland. The system of subsidies will make it possible to limit the surplus production of rice as a staple while at the same time ensuring that a sufficient number of people continue to farm rice. It could also be an effective way of maintaining the existence of paddy fields.

来年度からは、主食用米から新規需要米に転作したり、休耕田に作付けたりした農家に助成金を出す。余っている主食用米の生産を抑えつつ、米作の担い手を確保できる。水田を残すためには有効な手段といえるだろう。

Due to soaring grain prices, the price gap between imported wheat or corn, and rice for livestock feed or rice flour is narrowing. Therefore, if rice for these other purposes can be produced in sufficiently large quantities, it might be possible to decrease the level of grain imports. The government should come up with bold support measures.

穀物価格の高騰で輸入小麦やトウモロコシと新規需要米の価格差は縮小しており、量産につながれば、穀物輸入も減らせる。思い切った支援策を打ち出すべきだ。

===

Encourage 'rice returnees'

(米食奨励)

As the price of wheat continues to rise, the number of people "returning" to rice consumption is on the increase. As a result, rice consumption per person in Japan rose to 61.4 kilograms in fiscal 2007, 0.4 kilograms more than the previous year. This increase in rice consumption per person was the first in 45 years if we exclude past cases in which per capita rice consumption rose temporarily in years following a dip in consumption due to poor harvests.

度重なる小麦の値上げで消費者の「ご飯回帰」が進み、2007年度の国民1人あたりのコメ消費量は61・4キロと、前年度より0・4キロ増えた。大凶作の反動などを除けば、増加は45年ぶりだ。

Nevertheless, annual total rice consumption is still only about 8.3 million tons. The current year is expected to see a rich harvest of rice, with production for staple use likely to exceed 8.5 million tons. While consumers' growing reluctance to eat rice seems to have temporarily abated, the current situation is still far from likely to resolve the problem of Japan's rice glut.

だが、それでも年間消費量は830万トン前後だ。08年産の主食用米は豊作が見込まれ、生産量は850万トンを超える可能性がある。一時的に消費者のコメ離れに歯止めはかかったが、国内のコメ余りの解消にはほど遠い状況だ。

More than 40 percent of paddy fields nationwide, or 1 million hectares, have already been taken out of rice production as an adjustment measure to maintain rice prices. But if we keep on reducing rice production for use as a staple food, the nation's rice producing industry will merely continue to shrink.

コメの価格維持のための生産調整(減反)は、すでに水田の4割超にあたる100万ヘクタールに及んでいる。さらに主食用米の生産を減らすだけでは、日本の米作は縮む一方になってしまう。

The area of planted land devoted to the production of rice for livestock feed has been rapidly increasing since last year and now exceeds 10,000 hectares. The demand for rice flour has been mounting, leading to a major convenience store chain launching sales of bread made from rice flour and more stores stocking the flour for household use.

飼料米の作付けは昨年から急増し、1万ヘクタールを超えた。大手コンビニチェーンが米粉パンを発売し、家庭用米粉を扱う店も増えるなど米粉の需要も急増している。

===

Golden opportunity

(好機をのがすな)

As consumers are again paying attention to rice, now is a good opportunity to promote its wider usage. To ensure the present situation does not prove to be a temporary blip, we hope the government will quickly try to promote the research and development of high-yielding rice strains and the improvement of distribution routes for rice destined to be used for livestock feed or rice flour.

消費者の目がコメを向いている今が普及の好機だ。一時のブームに終わらせぬよう、高収量の専門品種などの研究開発や、流通経路の整備なども急いでほしい。

In tandem with this, it is absolutely necessary for measures to be taken to strengthen the management options of rice-producing farmers, such as policies to allow them more flexibility in leasing paddy fields.

あわせて、水田の賃貸借を柔軟に認める農地政策など、コメ農家の体質強化策も欠かせまい。

However, even if the production of rice for livestock feed or rice flour increases, there will be no change in the predominance of rice production as a staple food. It will be difficult for Japan to strengthen its international competitiveness merely by adjusting rice production levels in an effort to maintain price levels.

ただ、新規需要米が増えても、コメ生産の主力が主食用米であることに変わりはない。生産調整による価格維持を続けるだけでは、日本のコメが国際競争力をつけることは難しいだろう。

Amid concerns over food shortages worldwide, strong doubts have been aired about Japan's ongoing attempts to lower its production of rice as a staple food. In the long term, the government should discuss a radical review of its rice policies, including the abolition of the current rice production adjustments aimed at maintaining prices.

世界的な食料不足が懸念される中で、日本が主食のコメの生産を抑え続けることには疑問の声が強い。長期的には、生産調整の廃止も含めたコメ政策の抜本見直しも検討すべきではないか。

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Aug. 26, 2008)

20088260124  読売新聞)

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