Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Rice farming update

Yesterday I spent the day with my rice farming teacher, my gohan guru, my sage of the soil. I will call him Kitagawa, because I would prefer not to use his real name. There are several things one needs to become a rice farmer. I have none of them.

First, one needs fields, or paddies. I was originally considering five "tan." (A tan is a unit of area equal to 0.1 cho or 0.099174 hectare.) That is the minimum required land holding to obtain a farming licence. With a farming licence, one can obtain loans and national subsidies when your land is in soy or barley every three years. However, most paddies are in 3 tan blocks. It would be more practical to do 3 tan. I have been warned that 6 tan is quite a large amount, and that farming that much is very difficult, especially when not using agricultural chemicals. The weeding is quite a chore I guess. I'm not so worried about the weeding; there are people who will help with that. The problem is how to store the harvest. One tan produces about 300 kilos of rice. That means I would have to store 1800 kilos of rice. I could do that at the farming cooperative elevator, but all the rice gets mixed together and you get a kind of receipt for the grain you store there. That would mean that my naturally-grown rice would be thrown in with all the Frankenrice. Not a great option.

Which brings us to the next thing that I don't have. Land. If I had land, I could store the grain in a facility that I make there. However, I don't have any. The paddies I can rent from a farmer to get the farming licence and then buy the land, but it probably wouldn't be ready for the harvest. The ideal would be to have a house, a barn and so now and then be ready come October. The problem is that you have to have a farming licence to buy a farm house complete with all the barns and sheds. It's like "Who's on first?"

I plod on, searching for a hold.

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