26 January 2022 at 9:30 am
Building agricultural links with Japan through education
Support for Japanese agricultural high schools and colleges is part of a broader programme of education engagement in Japan relating to agriculture.
“Stereotypes remain strong in Japan when it comes to farming - predominantly male, manual labour and rural. Through bespoke education programmes, we aim to increase awareness of agriculture as an attractive business for both men and women,” says Misa Kitaoka, ENZ’s Director of Education, Japan.
On 22 December 2021, Education New Zealand Manapou ki te Ao joined Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) in hosting a luncheon for students and teachers from Osaka Nohgei High School. This agricultural high school won the “New Zealand Embassy” prize in the National Agricultural High Schools Website Competition. The competition, organised by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) Young Farmers and Women Division and Keio University, started in 2017.
The competition aims to support future generations of farmers, revitalise Japan’s agricultural sector and increase productivity through greater use of technology. The New Zealand Embassy supports the competition each year by offering a gift of kiwifruit from Zespri and hosting a luncheon at the Embassy for the winning school.
ENZ has facilitated opportunities for Japanese agricultural students and farmers to study in New Zealand on scholarships since 2014. Following the signing of the partnership agreement between Education New Zealand and the Hokkaido Board of Education in 2020, ENZ and MPI representatives based in Tokyo called on the Hokkaido Board of Education in 2021 to discuss the Agricultural School Exchange Programme, which aims to provide future generations of Hokkaido and New Zealand farmers with professional development and international friendship opportunities.
The programme, scheduled to get underway in 2023, will see Hokkaido students placed in New Zealand secondary schools with a focus on learning about the benefits of New Zealand’s pasture-based dairy farming and support for women in farming.
These programmes build on visits to Taranaki and Southland several years ago by Japanese female agricultural students, to study at secondary schools and experience homestays, in order to gain insights into the local farming industry and to learn about how women take leadership roles in the primary sector. The programme was supported by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, in consultation with New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Ministry for Primary Industries and ENZ, and was administered by the Japan Agricultural Exchange Council.
Misa says ENZ and MPI are continuing to work together to encourage Japanese students and farmers to change their ways of thinking around farming.