Fukushima has high hopes for certified farm produce ahead of 2020 Games

21 June 2018

[Translated by the Japan Times]The Fukushima Prefectural Government has set its sights on promoting local farm products certified under Global Good Agricultural Practices (Global GAP), with an eye toward having them served to Olympic athletes in 2020.

It will push locally grown produce including rice, cucumbers, tomatoes and peaches approved under the international standards for sustainable production and process management. The standards cover safety, environmental impact and the health, safety and welfare of workers and animals.

To kick-off the campaign, it plans to hold a business meeting Thursday in Tokyo, inviting some 100 representatives from major caterers, hotels and restaurants expected to serve athletes, coaches and other officials at the Summer Games.

Between July and October, Fukushima is typically the country’s largest supplier of cucumbers to Tokyo’s Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, and the nation’s second-largest producer of peaches. The prefecture will look to promote its ability to offer a stable supply of those products and other items.

Prefectural officials are planning to organize a fall tour for participants at the Tokyo meeting so they can visit Fukushima’s farmers and see how they are working to ensure food safety.

As part of efforts to get rid of the stigma over its produce following the core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011, the prefectural government launched a safety certification system in July last year.

Known as FGAP, with the F standing for Fukushima, it certifies rice, vegetables, fruits, beans, soba, wheat and mushrooms under standards that are stricter than Global GAP when it comes to radioactive material.

Prefectural officials hope to turn the Olympics into an opportunity to build stable relationships with food vendors so local producers can expand sales channels at home and abroad afterward.

Meals to be served at the athletes’ village will be supplied by caterers chosen by the Olympic organizing committee. Caterers are required to use only ingredients that clear the standards designated by the committee, including Global GAP and Marine Eco-Label Japan — a Japanese initiative to certify marine products caught in sustainably managed fisheries.

The prefectural government and agricultural cooperatives in Fukushima are working with an aim of becoming the top prefecture in terms of Global GAP certificates.

To push for increased sales and consumption of Fukushima produce, the prefectural government and producers launched an association in June, with two-time Olympic women’s marathon medalist Yuko Arimori serving as an adviser.

“We will make efforts to increase Global GAP certifications and promote the safety of Fukushima-made farm products so that they will be eaten by people at home and abroad during the Tokyo Olympics,” said Gov. Masao Uchibori. “We are determined to create an environment in which Fukushima products can secure a place on store shelves even after the Olympics.”