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Editors’ Picks: Agricultural analysis goes animated

A four-minute animated adaptation of a 62-page report on food security from Japan’s agriculture ministry has become a “minor YouTube hit,” according to the U.S. magazine BusinessWeek.

Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) recently commissioned Tokyo design studio Groovisions, which has previously developed visuals for MTV in Japan, to develop a MAFF report, Ensuring the Future of Food, as an animated short, the magazine explained.

Groovisions’ resulting short film, posted on YouTube, has so far generated a total of over 100,000 views on the video-sharing site, between its various subtitled versions.

In the film, people and livestock move and dance in time to a light techno soundtrack, while a voice-over explains the circumstances under which Japan’s food supply base has become “quite vulnerable.”

“Currently, Japan only produces about 40 per cent of the food it consumes,” MAFF wrote in an introduction to the campaign on its website. “This is the lowest among all major developed nations.”

An early example of the shifting food supply chain is tempura soba, a Japanese dish for which 80 per cent of the ingredients are now imported, the film explains.

Focused on a couple at home at the kitchen table, the film explains, “In the past, they ate more rice, fish and vegetables, so their diet was nutritionally well balanced. But nowadays they consume more meat, fat and oil.”

And as the animated couple’s waistlines expand, the voice-over explains that the shift in eating habits means more imports of soy and cereal grains, and that “such a change in the diet has disrupted the nutritional balance, giving way to a wide spectrum of health problems.”

The decrease in demand for domestic production leads directly to a decline in agricultural productivity, the video explains, showing young people walking away from the land and a few older farmers remaining to wave goodbye (all in time to the music).

BusinessWeek characterized MAFF’s animated short as an eye-catching alternative to “toiling on a report nobody will read.”

“Our goal was to raise awareness about Japan’s low food self-sufficiency ratio here and overseas,” the magazine quoted MAFF spokesperson Takaya Komine as saying. “The results have exceeded our expectations.”

— The “Editors’ Picks” feature will highlight unusual-yet-true news from the world of farming, as gleaned from various sources by the editorial staff of the Farm Business Communications division.

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