Restructuring of the Rush Production Area in Kumamoto Prefecture with the Increase in Imported Rush Mats

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  • 輸入畳表急増下における熊本県い草栽培地域の再編成
  • ユニュウ タタミオモテ キュウゾウ カ ニ オケル クマモトケン イグサ サイバイ チイキ ノ サイヘンセイ

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Abstract

<p>The purpose of this paper is to clarify the restructuring mechanism of the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture, which represents the restructuring of an agricultural production area under a development import by Japanese agribusiness. The results of this analysis are summarized as follows.</p><p>The number of rush mats imported into Japan has increased after 1985, and the rush production area in Japan has declined remarkably. In 2002, the Rush Mat Importers’ Association (RMIA) was organized, so the author examined the characteristics of its members. As a result, more than 60% of RMIA members are the rush mat wholesalers located in four rush production areas of Okayama, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, and Kumamoto Prefectures. Namely, it is clear that Japanese rush mat wholesalers have played very important roles in importing rush mats into the Japanese market.</p><p>The import activities by Japanese rush mat wholesalers have had a great influence on the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture. The behavior by the rush mat wholesalers is examined, taking the cases of the wholesalers dealing with Kumamoto Prefectural Federation of Agricultural Cooperatives. Clearly, most of the rush mat wholesalers from the other three production areas have engaged in import activities and participated in RMIA. This behavior has caused the fall in prices of low-grade rush mats produced in Kumamoto Prefecture after the mid-1980s.</p><p>As a result of these changes in the rush mat distribution system, the rush farmers in Kumamoto Prefecture have reacted rapidly. From a survey in Sencho Town, the farmers who own stable agricultural foundations have clearly continued rush production after 1990. However, many farmers have reduced rush cultivating areas, whereas a few farmers have expanded rush cultivation by introducing high-grade rush and dealing with the rush mat wholesalers directly. The farmers cannot easily switch their management to other crops because of the agricultural conditions in Sencho Town, so they are forced to continue rush production under the influx of imported rush mats.</p><p>Consequently, the behavior by the rush mat wholesalers has given rise to restructuring of the rush production area in Kumamoto Prefecture. This means that a small agribusiness like that of Japanese rush mat wholesalers has changed the behavior and influenced agricultural production areas, in a similar manner to that of large agribusinesses like general trading firms and food processors in Japan.</p>

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