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Agricultural Production Corparation GRA INC.

Challenges in Tohoku Reconstruction

Hard-to-cure powdery mildew hinders 
the recovery of famous strawberry 
production area

Yamamoto-cho in Miyagi Prefecture is a well-known strawberry production area in Japan. But most of the 129 farm houses located in the town were washed away by the tsunami caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Soon after the quake, Hiroki Iwasa, CEO of GRA Inc., an agricultural production corporation, went into action. He used his expertise gained from running a Tokyo-based IT company to set up a website to confirm the safety of Yamamoto-cho residents. Afterwards, he established an NPO intended to create local employment opportunities.

Wataru Sugeno researches IPM (integrated pest management) at GRA. "At the GRA Group, we are presently concentrating our efforts on marketing and branding for the farming industry in Yamamoto-cho," he says. "We are working to build a solid earnings environment through research and innovation in agricultural technology." His aim is to support farm management for the entire region by standardizing and sharing the agricultural production technology developed at GRA with all farmers in the region. But strawberry production farms continue to be plagued with powdery mildew that is increasingly resistant to pesticides.

GRA's research facility consisting of large-scale greenhousesGRA's research facility consisting of large-scale greenhouses

Initiatives

Tafna-ray supports reconstruction of strawberry 
farms by preventing powdery mildew

The Reconstruction Agency and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan are promoting a project for revival of food production areas through advanced technologies. The project is designed to support quick resumption of production in earthquake disaster-affected areas. It is also intended to help these areas develop as model sites for a new style of food production with a cluster of high-tech agricultural and farming facilities. As part of this project, a testing and research facility for large-scale farming (a solar power-based plant factory) was constructed in Yamamoto-cho. The facility is involved with systematization and field verification of advanced large-scale production technologies for strawberries and tomatoes.

At this facility, GRA, a member of the strawberry farm consortium, is engaged in the management of cultivation processes and products, aiming at high-earnings management through streamlining of farming operations. MAFF in turn promotes integrated pest management (IPM), which integrates a diversity of pest control techniques and measures to prevent pest populations from growing, instead of solely relying on chemical pesticides. IPM can also minimize risks to human health and the environment. As part of IPM pest control, the testing/research facility has adopted the Tafna-ray lighting system to prevent and control powdery mildew. The facility installed 15 Tafna-ray light units in the nursery room and nine units in the greenhouse to irradiate light for three hours at night. As a result, the average incidence of powdery mildew was found to be as low as 1 percent in the Tafna-ray irradiated area, compared to 30 percent in the area without irradiation. The data proved the efficacy of the Tafna-ray system in pest control, showing its potential for minimizing reductions in shipment volume caused by powdery mildew in strawberries, which has been a constant worry for strawberry farmers. The Tafna-ray lighting system was also selected as one of MAFF's New Agricultural Technologies 2010.

The Tafna-ray system emits light with a special wavelength that helps improve the immunity of strawberriesThe Tafna-ray system emits light with a special wavelength that helps improve the immunity of strawberries
Tafna-ray system selected as an MAFF's New Agricultural Technology 2010 Tafna-ray system selected as an MAFF's New Agricultural Technology 2010
Schedule control boardSchedule control board
Tafna-ray system's efficacy in powdery mildew preventionTafna-ray system's efficacy in powdery mildew prevention

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