Focus Area 1: Creating positive impact on the AFF industries, food and local communities

In this focus area, the Norinchukin Bank aims to utilize accumulated knowledge in food and agriculture, conduct investment and lending, build business partnerships, collaborate with stakeholders, and generate new innovation to promote initiatives to contribute to the preservation and development of local communities and the natural environment. Here, we will turn the AFF industries into sustainable growth industries.

Topics and Medium-Term Goals

Topics Medium-Term Goals
Topic 1-1 Contribute to sustainable AFF industries Through initiatives in the Food and Agriculture Business and collaboration with stakeholders, we contribute to the realization of sustainable AFF industries.
Topic 1-2 Contribute to safe and secure food supply We leverage our organizational knowledge in food and agriculture to contribute to people's rich dietary lifestyles.
Topic 1-3 Contribute to sustainable local communities We contribute to providing solutions for and supporting sustainable development of local communities across all of Japan, the foundations of the AFF industries.
Topic 1-4 Conserve the natural environment as a foundation of the AFF industries We contribute to conserving the natural environment, such as soil, forests, rivers, and oceans, which are fundamental for the sustainable development of the AFF industries.
Topic 1-5 Create business innovation We contribute to the sustainable development of the AFF industries through investments and business alliances that create new technologies and business models.

Major Initiatives

  • Provide financial support and solutions to management issues for agricultural, fishery, and forestry organizations
  • Collaborate with the Japan Institute of Agricultural Management, which trains next-generation farm operators
  • Support the AFF industries and help revitalize industries and help revitalize local communities via the AFF Future Fund, a general incorporated association
  • Conduct food and farming education activities
  • Support forest rejuvenation through the Wood Solution Network, the Norinchukin Forest Rejuvenation Fund (Nochu Potential Forest Productivity Fund), Potential Forest Productivity Fund, and more
  • Create business innovation by supporting startup companies

Related SDGs

Contributing towards Solving Issues with Sustainability through the "F&A Growth Industrialization Investment Framework"

The Norinchukin Bank has established the "F&A Growth Industrialization Investment Framework" with the aim of collaborating with industry members and businesses both within Japan and overseas and providing them with risk money to support them, in order to increase the added value and productivity of the AFF industries. By investing in this framework, we are contributing towards solving sustainability issues surrounding the AFF industries.

Promoting the Spread of Soy-based Meat

Given the "protein crisis" caused by global population growth, deepening environmental problems, and the increase in ethical consumption, plant-based meats are gaining increasing attention as alternative proteins. In March 2021, we invested in Kumamoto company DAIZ Inc. which is developing, producing, and selling plant-based meats.
DAIZ uses its proprietary technology utilizing raw materials made from sprouted soybeans instead of conventional pressed soybeans to make "Miracle Meat," a plant-based meat that is highly nutritious and with a flavor, texture, and aroma similar to that of traditional meat. The Norinchukin Bank is providing investment to not only support their efforts to promote the spread of plant-based meats using domestically-produced soybeans but also to introduce sales channels, thereby not only solving food and environmental problems, but also increasing consumption of domestic soybeans and increasing the incomes of agricultural producers.

Products made from soybean-derived plant-based meat

Bioplastics Raw Materials made from Plant Residues

Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases in the post-processing of plastics made from fossil fuels is a challenge in bringing about a decarbonized society. In July 2020, the Bank invested in Aomori company Glencal Senary Co., Ltd., which uses its own proprietary drying technology to dry food residues, felled trees, and other plant residues to produce raw materials for biomass plastics. One example initiative is The Farm Village Industry Federation of Aomori Prefectural Agricultural Cooperatives (JA Aoren), which has started initiatives to dry at low cost apple pomace produced in the apple juice production process for use as raw materials for biomass plastics.

Forming Partnerships Towards the Wider Use of Biogas Plants

In the dairy and livestock industry, labor shortages mean that costs for treatment of manure as well as securing enough personnel are becoming problematic. The inability to ensure capacity for treatment of manure while increasing cattle herd sizes is proving a bottleneck to business expansion, and even if this manure is composted this may not be functionally adequate in terms of quality, and there have been incidents of problems with odor.
Hoping to solve such problems, the Norinchukin Bank formed a partnership with Biomass Research & Development., and JA- HokkaidoShinnoren in August 2020 aimed at promoting the spread of biogas plants for the dairy and livestock industries.
As well as reducing farmers' burden of manure disposal, biogas plants enable use of by-products for manufacturing fertilizer in farming as well as providing biogas for renewable energy. This provides additional income for farmers thus increasing the viability of a sustainable farming business, and by producing and using energy locally, contributes to fighting climate change.
We will first ensure the success of individual cases in Hokkaido, and by expanding this nationwide in the future will develop local businesses and investment demand, thus creating an opportunity to exercise our financial functions.

(From right) YASUMOTO Kaoru, President of JA- Hokkaido Shinnoren, KIKUCHI Sadao, Representative Director of Biomass Research Ltd., and KAWAMOTO Shin, Managing Executive Officer of The Norinchukin Bank who together signed a partnership to promote the spread of biogas plants

Initiatives to Reduce Food Waste through Financing

For poultry farmers, disposing of chicken carcasses is an unavoidable problem. Jumonji Chicken Company, Ltd., is a company in Iwate Prefecture involved in chicken meat production and sale. In order to effectively use the chicken carcasses produced by its plant, it established Jumonji Maruzen Soup, Co., Ltd. as a joint venture with Maruzen Food Industry Co., Ltd. In order to produce chicken broth. In establishing this company the Bank acted as an intermediary, and provided 2.6 billion yen in loans for the construction of the plant. This plant processes 35 tons of chicken carcasses daily, producing soup, extract, and oil, and the waste from this is converted into poultry feed, contributing to reductions in food waste. In addition, the plant also contributes to local employment.

Companies' relationships with the Norinchukin Bank

Supporting the Redistribution of Excess Food Inventory to Reduce Food Loss

In Japan, the amount of food loss — food that could otherwise be eaten but is thrown away instead — is 6 million tons per year (2018 estimate by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries). Of this loss, the food manufacturing, food wholesaling, and food retailing industries count for approximately one-third.
To resolve this issue, the Bank began working with SynaBiz Co., Ltd. in 2019. Through the Bank, SynaBiz is introduced to companies facing concerns over dealing with food inventory, with ordinary distribution made difficult due to seasonal products, packaging changes, and other issues, forcing inventories to be disposed of over time. Through the SynaBiz-operated Otameshi social contribution-style distribution platform, we work to redistribute these inventories.
Going forward, we will leverage the Otameshi distribution platform and the Bank's network in strengthening our cooperative structure to contribute to reducing food loss, including agricultural products and other perishable items.

Initiative with SynaBiz and Partner Companies

Introducing New Sales Channels for Seafood Processing Companies

In light of the impact of COVID-19, JF Nagisa Shingyoren together with the Bank conducted a survey about their current situations based on the hypothesis that "some seafood processing companies may have excess stock levels." As a result, it became clear that many seafood processing companies that had lost their sales channels were suffering from excess stock levels. In order to solve this problem, in cooperation with JF Nagisa Shingyoren, the Bank introduced these seafood processing companies to Synabiz (page 33). Sales of processed seafood products through Synabiz started in September 2020. In addition to making these specific matching projects a reality, we also provide financing support.

JF Nagisa Shingyoren and The Norinchukin Bank

Alliance with the Japan Institute of Agricultural Management, Which Trains Next-Generation Farm Operators

The Japan Institute of Agricultural Management (JAIAM) was established in 2013 with the Norinchukin Bank as its main sponsor and in cooperation with member companies. The institute seeks to train next-generation farm operators and agricultural leaders in local communities. Under its organizational philosophy of training farm operators, which is indispensable to Japan’s future agriculture, the JAIAM provides holistic education under the four themes of management capability, farming capability, social capability and humanity.

日本農業経営大学校ロゴ

Post-graduation agricultural employment status

As of April 1, 2021

Post-graduation agricultural employment status

*Family farms include those owned by grandparents, relatives

First Generation of Graduates:
Employed in Nakano City, NaganoMr. ABE Hiroaki

Mr. ABE Hiroaki

After graduating, I began working in plum management in Nakano City, Nagano, which is where my family lives. When I took my farming job, new plum varieties cultivated by the Nagano Prefectural Agricultural Experiment Station was a big topic of discussion. We secured a farming field in the hope that this would lead to development in plum management. On the sales side, we have been striving to diversify our sales routes, with core sales from shipping to JA Nakano City, plus direct sales to customers, gifts for hometown tax payments, and so on. We also worked on creating shipping boxes, pamphlets, and office documents, such as invoices. Looking ahead, we will keep coming up with initiatives that help us appeal to consumers about our self-produced Nakano City sourced products. There are many young farmers in Nakano City who enjoy a life of fulfillment each day, exchanging information about cultivation, having personal relationships, and so on. In the future, I plan to integrate grape cultivation, a business run by my parents, and create a cultivation plan that looks at both plum and grape work. I still have much to learn, but I will deal with each issue as it comes.

Local Revitalization Support Utilizing Farmstays

We are promoting a farmstay venture meant to generate profit in the sense that it creates hiring and income in rural areas. In March 2020, we signed a four-way partnership agreement with JA Zen-Noh, Nokyo Tourist Corporation, and the Japan Countryside Stay Association. Through this agreement, we are working to realize regional revitalization through the establishment and promotion of the farmstay business.
In addition to providing the JA Bank's financial functions (such as farmstay loans), the bank also offers partnership coordination via a broad trading infrastructure.

Regional Revitalization through Farmstays, Promotion of Farming Areas and Agriculture

From October 2020 to March 2021, as an effort to contribute to the revitalization of rural districts, the four groups at left held farmstay-themed courses at Marunouchi Platinum University, which offers career courses for businesspeople. This initiative was supported by Dai Maru Yu, a partnership between companies situated in the Otemachi, Marunouchi, and Yurakucho districts of Tokyo, in collaboration with "Dai Maru Yu SDGs ACT5" which aims to build an SDG model city.
This course aimed to create sustainable local communities through exchange between rural and urban areas to solve problems and create fans, and had a total of 227 participants in six sessions.

AgVenture Lab: A hub for Open Innovation

In May 2019, the JA Group established AgVenture Lab, an innovation laboratory, in Otemachi, Tokyo. AgVenture Lab is based on the concept of cultivating the next generation of agriculture, closely supporting daily lives of local communities, and connecting places and people.
At this lab, the various businesses of the JA Group connect with startups, partner companies, universities, government actors, and others who possess technology, ideas, and other assets. These players utilize a variety of knowledge and technologies to create new businesses, develop services, and resolve social issues. On the hard side, we have set up coworking spaces for startups. On the soft side, we also work to accelerate innovation based on the JA Accelerator Program which seeks to generate new business models, soliciting business plans from startups and other companies and leveraging the JA Group's strengths.
In May 2020, we held a business plan contest to select companies that would participate in the 2nd JA Accelerator Program; in this contest, eight companies passed the selection process.
The program adopts the key phrase of innovation of food,agriculture and life, and covers the wide range of businesses operated by the JA Group. It solicits business plans not only in FinTech but also AgTech, FoodTech, LifeTech, and others, leveraging the JA Group's strengths (e.g. physical storefronts and other infrastructure, its customer networks) in an attempt to generate new business models.

AgVenture Lab Initiative Areas

AgVenture Lab Initiative Areas
2nd JA Accelerator Program Business Plan Contest Award Recipients
〈Business Plan Contest Merit Award〉 2nd JA Accelerator Program Participating Companies
AGRIST Inc. Solving agricultural labor shortages with AI and harvesting robots
Agrihub Inc. From core agricultural systems to cultivation support AI
CuboRex Co., Ltd. "E-Cat Kit" for electric drive of wheelbarrows
greenase Inc. Powdering technologies that connect vegetable production and consumption
sharagri Co., Ltd. Sharagri specific skills temporary staffing
TERRACE MILE, Inc. Utilizing data to build a new farming support platform
TrueBizon, Ltd. sora:share sky sharing platform for drone navigation
myProduct Co., Ltd. CRAFTRIP – industrial tourism platform specializing in local handicrafts
〈Innovation Award〉 Companies separate to this program being considered for an alliance or support
Axis-motion Inc., INGEN Inc., WFrontier Inc., Tabetech Inc., STOCK POINT Inc., miraiscien Co., Ltd.

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