Many of the websites online say that Japan has the highest per hectacre crop yield due to their terrace farming. Most of their land is farmed on terraces. I’d say that at least 85% of their land is farmed using terrace farming, with the more successful farmers utilizing these terraces because they use less water.
The farm system in Japan has been undergoing rapid changes in the past decade as their farming class ages and begins to abandon farmlands, specifically rice terraces, which are notoriously difficult to maintain. From 1995 to 2005, a reported 386,000 hectacres were abandoned, with the highest percentage of land abandoned coming from the region where rice terraces are highest concentrated (Chungoku).
The efforts of traditionalist farmers such as Iio Jozu and of the National Rice Terrace Liaison Council are helping to ensure that rice terraces, world renowned as an extremely eco-friendly system, do not die out in Japan. The tanada owner system, whereby non-farmers rent and work on rice terraces as a sort of urban tourism, is the most visible product of the NRTLC’s efforts.
The constant change and independent nature of most Japanese farming makes precise statistics on the subject practically impossible; however, there has been a reported steep downward trend in rice terrace farming, followed by a backlash of organized efforts to restimulate this effective, eco-friendly style of large-scale agriculture.
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