Agricultural theme parks cropping up nationwide

posted on May 24, 2016

People who don't mind getting their hands dirty could do worse than visit one of the agricultural theme parks that have opened around the country in recent years.

Visitors will be able to have various farming experiences, purchase agricultural products and enjoy good food. These theme parks help enhance agricultural competitiveness by drawing attention to the so-called sixth industry of agriculture, in which production, processing and distribution - the primary, secondary and tertiary industries - are vertically integrated.

Agricultural theme parks are often complex facilities equipped with rental farmland, direct sales shops for agricultural products, restaurants and processing factories. Though municipalities have operated agricultural parks before, large-scale agricultural theme parks have been increasing over the past few years in response to such trends as the entry of private companies into the agricultural industry.

Namegata Farmers Village is a sweet potato theme park that opened in autumn last year in Namegata, Ibaraki Prefecture, an area noted for its sweet potato production. The theme park is operated by Namegata Shirohato Farm, an agricultural corporation founded in part by Shirohato Food Corp., which produces and sells confectionery made from the potatoes and is based in Moriguchi, Osaka Prefecture.

Iga no Sato Mokumoku Tezukuri Farm pioneered the concept of agricultural theme parks. About 500,000 people annually visit the theme park in Iga, Mie Prefecture. The farm dates back to 1988, when Moku Moku Tezukuri Farm Co., an agricultural corporation, opened a ham factory to improve the added value of Iga pork, a local brand. Chairman Osamu Kimura, a native of the prefecture, was instrumental in its foundation.

The place was renovated and expanded as an agricultural park in 1995. Local beer, bread and tofu are now produced at the 14-hectare farm. The agricultural corporation also operates tomato and strawberry farms in the neighborhood. Visitors can experience making sausages in a factory, enjoy being close to animals and eat at a restaurant.

source by the-japan-news
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