Japanese Agricultural Innovation Stories

Improvements in agricultural technology and breeding helped struggling Japanese farming communities in the early 20th century. In the 1990s, Dr. Nishio Toshihiko, a Japanese rice breeder and scholar, published over 150 stories about these innovations. Many of the cultivars and techniques he discussed in the stories are familiar to Americans, such as the Fuji Apple, the 20th Century Asian pear, and vegetable grafting. By showing how these discoveries derived from careful observation, patience, and in some cases, serendipity, we hope that farmers will realize how ordinary people can contribute to the advancement of their local agricultural communities and beyond.

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