Farming team spirit
Japanese rice farmers are always on the lookout for smart solutions to a pressing problem they face: The opportunities and excitement that Japan’s major cities offer young people has lead to a gradual depopulation of rural areas, with the worrying result that there are simply not enough people left to work the land.
Indeed, the problem has become so serious that local government, industry and community organizations are all working on ideas to make agriculture more attractive to people. The farmers of Japan’s Tottori region came up with a particularly innovative solution. In 2009 they founded The Paddy Owners Club, which offers companies the opportunity to rent a rice paddy for a year and to use it for team-building and promotional activities.
“Canadian Solar is committed to making the difference in all the communities in which it operates around the world, particularly where this is related to sustainability, a cornerstone of our business,” said Taegyu Sun, Country Manager of Canadian Solar Japan. “This made The Paddy Owners club a natural fit for us,” he added.
“More than creating awareness of the depopulation problem and promoting sustainable farming, the project offers mostly city-based companies and their employees the opportunity to enjoy a totally unique and very rewarding experience,” explained Mr. Ryuzo Takahashi, a representative of agricultural corporation Appufamu, which operates The Paddy Owners Club.
“Employees and their families get to spend time off in Japan’s beautiful rural landscape during planting season and cultivate a rice paddy together. The opportunity to do something so constructive and rewarding together builds a strong sense of community, and it’s fun too,” said Mr. Takahashi.
Local farmers harvest the rice in autumn each year and the produce is then attractively packaged and given to the employees of the participating companies, so people get to enjoy the fruits of their labor too.
Canadian Solar joined the The Paddy Owners Club in 2011 and now has 22 acres under cultivation. This year’s harvest yielded 990 kilograms of premium “Canadian Solar Rice.”