A sales person shows a bag of Japanese rice in her hand in a supermarket of China in an undated file photo.The Japanese government has urged the nation to eat more rice in a new drive to boost the nation's self-sufficiency.
The Japanese government has urged the nation to eat more rice in a new drive to boost the nation's self-sufficiency.
Once the most important ingredient in every Japanese meal, the average amount of rice eaten each day has shrunk by more than 50 per cent over the past 40 years.
The government has now unveiled plans to boost rice consumption in a bid to drive up the nation's self-sufficiency rate from 40 to 50 per cent within the next decade.
The recommended consumption rate of rice as astaple food has also been increased from 61 to 63 kilograms per person a year, Shigeru Ishiba, the agriculture minister announced.
"This target can be achieved if Japanese people eat an additional bite of rice at every meal," said a ministry official.
Traditionally the focal point of every meal in Japan, rice has steadily been eclipsed by Western foods such as pasta and cereals.
The self-sufficiency initiative is the latest in a string of government drives to encourage the nation to revert back to its traditional rice roots.
Earlier this year, ministers launched a major Y200million campaign to woo back a new generation of rice eaters in a bid to revive the domestic rice industry.
Bakeries across the country were urged to make bread with rice flour, local government cookery classes taught housewives how to make rice pasta and thousands of schools were served rice-based food for lunch.
Further steps towards agricultural self-sufficiency included the doubling of wheat production to 1.8 million tones and soybean from 230,000 tonnes to 500,000 tonnes as well as further hikes in dairy and milk output.
The ongoing decline in rice consumption has also impacted the waistlines of the nation.
During the past three decades, Japanese men have grown in weight by ten per cent and women by 6.4 per cent, according to government figures.
Since 2002 the number of obese and overweight Japanese over the age of 15 has risen from 28 to 36 million, according to a recent report by Datamonitor, the international market research analysts.