Japan's agriculture and the food industry face a serious drop in demand as well as a labor shortage due to the coronavirus pandemic, a government report said Tuesday.
According to the fiscal 2019 Annual Report on Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas in Japan, the farming sector was hit by a slump in demand for products such as school lunch ingredients after the government closed school facilities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The prices of flowers and ornamental plants also declined as many events were canceled amid the pandemic, while the government's travel restrictions over the virus prevented the entry of foreign interns to Japan, resulting in a shortfall of labor in the sector, the white paper said.
To assist farmers, the government has helped them find alternative sales routes and shouldered the associated transport costs, according to the report.
The government also raised the ceiling of lending by state-affiliate lenders to farmers and fishermen to help keep them in business.
As for African swine fever, the government report warned that the risk of the disease entering Japan is becoming very high and that the government is taking preventive steps.
The report also noted that Japan passed an amended to strengthen preventive measures at borders to block African swine fever in March.
The highly contagious disease could hamper the productivity of Japan's livestock industry for a long period of time and threaten a stable supply of meat products if it spreads in the country, the report added.