FUW HELPS ACADEMIC COMPARE CHERNOBYL AND FUKUSHIMA EXPERIENCES
A Japanese expert on sustainable agriculture has visited FUW deputy president Glyn Roberts's Snowdonia farm to learn about the effects on farming of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion 26 years ago.
Yoichi Matsuki, emeritus professor of agricultural economics at Tokyo's Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University, is currently guest researcher of business economics at Wageningen University in Holland.
He recently travelled to interview Mr Roberts at his beef and sheep farm at Ysbyty Ifan, near Betws-y-Coed, where sheep have been under movement restrictions since the Chernobyl explosion.
As chief representative of the Japan Farm Animal Welfare Initiative, Dr Matsuki has also written a report on the condition of farm animals in the evacuation area surrounding Fukushima following last year's nuclear power disaster.
"He is comparing the experiences of farmers affected by the Chernobyl fallout with those of Japanese farmers surrounding the Fukushima plant," said Mr Roberts.
"He is also working on sustainable agriculture within Japan and the UK and is very interested in the impact EU policies will have on the future of European agriculture. He told me there were many similar issues affecting agriculture in Japan and Wales.
"One example he gave me was the average age of a farmer in Wales, at 58, compared with 75 per cent of farmers in rural areas of Japan being over 65. There is also an increasing migration of young people from these rural areas to the cities - very much like the situation in rural Wales.
"We both agreed that the balance within agricultural in both countries has swayed towards environmental issues, to the detriment of food production, and if the industry is to achieve sustainability in the future there has to be the right balance between these two elements."