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Agricultural Powerhouse Heading for “Sustainable Agriculture” France

Current status and issues of the largest agricultural country in the EU

Some shops in the marché carry only organic vegetables.

Symbolized by its beautiful blue, white and red flag representing freedom, equality and fraternity, France is one of the leading nations in Europe. With a land mass measuring approximately 1.5 times that of Japan and a population of approximately 66 million, France boasts a gross domestic product (GDP) of 2,806.4 billion USD (Japan: 4,898.5 billion USD), making its economy the fifth largest in the world following the United States, China, Japan and Germany. In addition, its gross national per capita income (GNI) of 43,073 USD is roughly four times the world average and higher than that of Japan (39,947 USD)*1. As with many developed countries, secondary and tertiary industries are the center of its economy; and France is the world's largest tourist destination, attracting 83.7 million people per year*2. France also boasts a major agricultural industry. With yields accounting for 19 percent of the entire output of the EU, France is the largest producer in the European Union*3. Farmland covers 52.5 percent of the nation (Japan: 12%), the largest in the EU. France ranks seventh in the world in crop production behind China, the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and Indonesia. In the majority agricultural products, France boasts a production volume that ranks among the top 10 in the world. Among the major agricultural products, France stands out in the volume of wheat, barley and corn in grain, potatoes and sugar beet in root vegetables, and beef, pork, raw milk and cheese in livestock. In addition, France is active in grape production and is the world's largest producer of wine*4. Incidentally, France's food self-sufficiency rate, on a calorie basis, calculated from daily calorie intake per capita, is 129% compared to Japan's 39%*5. Often referred to as the “breadbasket of Europe,” the current outlook for French agriculture is, however, by no means optimistic. Since the 1990s, the farming population has been decreasing yearly, and farmland area is also decreasing due to diversion and the abandonment of cultivated land as urban populations have increased. In addition, the excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers to improve productivity has made environmental pollution a serious problem. These problems are common issues faced by the agricultural industries of not only France, but also Japan and other developed countries. How to resolve these issues and how to achieve a “sustainable agriculture” in the future—these are the questions posed to the agricultural industry of France and the world's other developed countries.

  1. *1.United Nations statistics, 2013
  2. *2.World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), 2014
  3. *3.Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Website
  4. *4.FAOSTAT 2013
  5. *5.Food Balance Sheet, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
  • Cheese products crowding the showcases; rich in taste and abundant in variety.

From France: Solutions to global food problems

An agricultural policy that has been implemented by 28 EU countries, including France, is the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Introduced in 1962, CAP is the de facto agricultural standard in Europe. Needless to say, France is the leader of CAP. The current CAP system is composed of two pillars: income support and market measures for farmers, and the Rural Development Policy, which includes initiatives such as environmental conservation and the diversification and strengthening of the competitiveness of rural economies. Through these policies, France has been able to stabilize supply and prices in a single market, and maintain the farming income levels.

  • Mixed agriculture, which combines dry-field farming and livestock farming, is also recommended for farmland preservation.

CAP is currently aiming to achieve sustainable, productive and competitive agriculture, while taking into account recent issues such as environmental protection and support for farms in the wake of globalization. For this reason, the French government is taking measures to ensure food safety, protect the environmental and achieve sustainable agriculture. Such measures include additional subsidies for farmers engaging in organic agriculture. What is the significance of Kubota's entry into the agricultural industry and large scale commercial farming in France and the EU?. Shinichi Yamada, General Manager of the Agri- Machinery Business Development Dept., who played a central role in this project, points out that this is a new step toward solving the world's food problems, which is Kubota's goal.

Shinichi Yamada
General Manager
Agri-Machinery Business Development Dept.

“With the world's population forecasted to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, increasing food production is essential for the survival of humankind. This will not be easy, however, with predicted increases in cultivated acreage being only 5 to 10%. One of the things required to address the present situation is to increase food production and productivity in the area of dry-field farming. To achieve this challenging goal to solve global food problems, Kubota is making a full-scale entry into large scale commercial farming in France and the EU”.

Let's follow the tracks of this new challenge for Kubota.

  • Grain production in France

    (2013: FAOSTAT/Resources)

    Wheat No.5 in the world
    (No.1: China)
    Corn No.9 in the world
    (No.1: USA)
    Barley No.3 in the world
    (No.1: Russia)
    Potato No.8 in the world
    (No.1: China)
    Sugar beet No.2 in the world
    (No.1: Russia)
    Grape No.5 in the world
    (No.1: China)
  • Grain export from France

    (2012: FAOSTAT/Resources)

    Wheat No.4 in the world
    (No.1: USA)
    Corn No.5 in the world
    (No.1: USA)
    Barley No.2 in the world
    (No.1: Australia)
    Sugar No.5 in the world
    (No.1: Brazil)
  • Livestock production in France

    (2013: FAOSTAT/Resources)

    Milk No.7 in the world
    (No.1: USA)
    Butter No.6 in the world
    (No.1: India)
    Cheese No.3 in the world
    (No.1: USA)