The start of the rice farming season also signals the peak period for shipping Aigamo ducklings for Tsumura, the Kawachi duck sales company in Matsubara City, Osaka. Raised in the main farm’s hatchery, the ducklings are used to avoid reliance on pesticides and agri-chemicals in rice farming. It’s called the Aigamo method.
The ducklings are awaiting their moment to shine, quacking adorably and swimming in circles. The company estimates it will ship about 2,000 ducklings by mid-June. The ducklings will be active in exterminating pesky bugs and weeds in the waterbeds of the rice fields in all regions of Japan that have completed the initial rice planting phase.
Kawachi CEO Yoshihiko Tsumura wishes the Aigamo ducklings good luck on this exciting journey. “I hope for their best, so we can make safe and delicious rice,” he said recently.
Many organic farms in the rural regions of Japan that implement the Aigamo method extend an invitation to city dwellers to become Aigamo rice field owners. Essentially those who take up the offer will be investing in healthy produce and supporting the sustainability of organic farms at the very reasonable price of ¥36,000 Japanese yen ($320 U.S. dollars).
The return on investment pays well for the Aigamo rice field’s urban owner. In the case of Organic Farm Taniguchi in Hyogo Prefecture, owners receive 50 kilograms of brown rice and a platter of duck meat (two ducks) valued at over ￥50,000 Japanese yen (about $450 U.S. dollars). Alternatively, you can be an owner for a smaller field costing ¥12,400 Japanese yen and receive 15 kilograms of rice with a plate of duck meat (one grown duck).
It’s first-come-first-served—there are only a limited number of fields, and orders to sponsor them get filled up by late June. Next year’s Aigamo rice orders begin the following month, in July. It’s safe to say the demand is high, and there are many people supporting organic farming.
For those who miss out on the opportunity of becoming an Aigamo rice field owner, all is not lost. Farms host events where people can come and plant the rice seedlings from the middle of May. The cost of participation ranges from ¥3,000 to ¥5,000 Japanese yen and is half-price for elementary school students. The day is guaranteed to give participants an insightful experience of the hard work farmers deal with on a yearly basis. The rice planting events occur—rain, hail, or shine—thus weeding out the weak from the tough.