COUNTRYSIDE STAY Developmental Project for SDG

“Countryside stay developmental project” has been selected for the JAPAN Brand Developmental Support Project of the Small and Medium Enterprise Agency this year. The project is composed of Agri New Winds Co., Ltd., Chiba Eco energy Co., Ltd. and a joint company of My Farm Co., Ltd. and Eco Trust Co., Ltd., all of which take Brain Trust from The Sun Co., Ltd. as their representative corporation. We will continue to promote open innovation projects that take advantage of achievements, know-how and strengths among each company in the future, while receiving support from Success Mentors Co., Ltd. in areas such as comprehensive planning and overseas development.

本プロジェクトを構成する3つの事業分野

Brand Development / Information Dissemination Project”

Countryside Stay Developmental Project for SDGs”

“Advanced Human Resource Development Project”

We will focus on spreading Countryside Stay Developmental Project for SDGs across Japan, mainly in Kamakura and Asakusa, where the brand has already been established, amid the COVID-19 pandemic ongoing. At the same time, we also intend to disseminate the information both in Japan and overseas by planning / developing “tour routes” to introduce the histories and scenic spots of Togoku 3 shrines (the Kamisu Shrine, the Kashima Shrine and the Katori Shrine) and Suigo 3 cities (Katori City, Itako City and Kashima City), regarding Kashima City, Itako city and Kamisu City in Ibaraki Prefecture as well as Katori City in Chiba Prefecture, throughout their branding process. We are planning to capture domestic demands and brand the cities for the time being, and then will respond to inbound demands.

This project plan considers its main pillar as planning / developing the “Countryside Stay” project based on the SDGs of “growing, eating and using vegetables and energy by oneself”, with the aim of “branding Japanese food and culture”.

“Countryside Stay” is a traveling style in which travelers stay in rural villages. They can experience a traditional Japanese rural lifestyle and interact with local people. Travelers can also experience a variety of attractive local settings and communities while staying at various types of accommodations, including Countrysidestays and historic Japanese folk architecture. (From the website of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries)

We will actively accept human resources from the tourism and restaurant industries, which were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, in order to secure agricultural workers to support local production for local consumption. In addition, we will also support the accumulation of knowledge on “production, use and consumption”, while offering foreign language (English) training using remote tools. Our goal is to develop highly skilled human resources who can handle all aspects of “production, use, consumption and communication”.

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➢ Brand Development / InformationDissemination Project

Current situation and potential of brand developing sites

Brand developing sites, including the cities of Kashima, Itako and Kamisu in Ibaraki Prefecture, and the city of Katori in Chiba Prefecture, have a traditional and historical resource of Togoku 3 shrines (the Kamisu Shrine, the Kashima Shrine and the Katori Shrine), which was called “Misogi no sansha mairi (purification of Ise pilgrimage)”, to be worshiped as “Shimo sannomiya mairi (visit to the lower 3 shrines)” after visiting the Ise Shrine in Edo perid. The sites also have a natural resource of scenic spots utilizing rivers and lakes, such as Suigo 3 cities (Katori City, Itako City and Kashima City). They are located within 100 km of the Tokyo metropolitan area, the same distance as Atami and Hakone, and about 40 km from Narita International Airport. More than 45 express buses a day operate from Tokyo Station as well.

With fewer than 30,000 inbound visitors※, the sites is not widely recognized as an international tourist destination in comparison with the 600,000 people of Kamakura, a city with an established brand, despite the favorable conditions (potentials).

We will, in the future, aim to contribute to the brand development there by developing a model of cooperation in agriculture, energy and real estate through open innovation and actively communicating it to domestic and inbound markets, while taking sustainability (SDGs) into consideration.

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➢ Scenery of Suigo 3 cities

➢ Location of Togoku 3  shrines

➢ Global Expansion of the SDGs and Farming-based Power Generation

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➢ SDGs list

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➢ Farming-based power generation

We will proceed this project with creating a hybrid model of a countryside stay business and a farming-based power generation business (running a solar power generation business at the same time as producing agricultural products) to brand it as a model of “Countryside Stay Developmental Project for SDGs”. The aim lies in attracting East Asian countries (China and Taiwan with the largest number of inbound tourists), served by Ibaraki Airport, with the opportunity to experience something provided, and in attracting inbound tourists also from Europe and the United States, highly conscious of the environment, by taking advantage of the convenient location from Narita International Airport.

The promotion of SDGs began in 2015, on which Europe has been particularly enthusiastic in making efforts. According to the 2019 achievement ranking, the top 10 countries are all comprised of European countries (The ranking goes Denmark, Sweden, Finland, France, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Norway, the Netherlands and Estonia in that order. Japan is only in 15th place).

・From local production for local consumption to self-production for self-consumption

The premise of countryside stays is assumed as “local production for local consumption”, in which various products and resources (mainly agricultural and marine products) produced in a region are consumed in that region. This project, however, will go further into “self-production for self-consumption”, in which consumers, especially those in domestic demand, produce food and then eat it on their own. This aims at communicating a sense of “awareness” that is lacking in all people living on the earth today. The experience of joy in growing crops will provide urban dwellers, who tend to lose contact with nature, with opportunities to deepen their understanding of agriculture, to learn about the ability of seeing the truth and the process of things and to feel a lifestyle in harmony with the magnificence of nature.

➢ Advanced Human Resource Development Project

Influences to tourism / restaurant industries

The Labor Force Survey released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on May 29, 2020 says the unemployment rate (seasonally adjusted) for April 2020 was 2.6%, an increase for the 3rd consecutive month. “Accommodation and food services industry” had the largest negative impact, with the number of workers decreased by 460,000 year-on-year. In addition, the number of “absent workers”, who are paid a certain amount of salary while maintaining their employment contract but are in a state of “potential unemployment” due to their place in work uncertain, has jumped from 1.94 million in January 2020 to 5.97 million in April, almost a 3-time increase.

・Aging of agricultural population and problem of its next generation

About 60% of the key agricultural workers who support Japan’s agriculture, on the other hand, age 65 or older, and only about 10% are under 50 years old, which ends up striking a significant imbalance. We are accordingly looking for ways to attract people in the tourism / restaurant industries under the COVID-19 pandemic influences into agriculture. Considering the high hurdles involved in changing jobs to a different industry due to sudden external factors, however, we rather envision enrolling them in “agricultural school”, where they can systematically learn farming methods in a community-based environment, or in “farm camp", where they can start farming on a trial basis in their own neighborhood while working at their current jobs.

・Performance of learning and experience

My Farm Co., Ltd., a co-proposer, is also engaged in agricultural education and farming / nature experience projects. A total of more than 1,800 graduates have already started farming throughout Japan, including overseas, since its start of the agricultural school in 2011.

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➢ Agricultural school run by My Farm Co.Ltd

農作業をする女性たち

➢ Human Resource Development Project