Shima's Stories 7

Building the future of agriculture
with naturally derived fungi


The mitigation of environmental burdens resulting from the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has become an issue in Japan, where organic farming is not yet widespread.
Shima Trading became aware of the use of mycorrhizal fungi in crop production in Israel.
We aim to ensure the long-term sustainability of food supplies while maintaining high levels of safety and reliability and reducing environmental burdens.

Related SDGs

Key Person

Business Promotion Department
New Business Development Team

He joined Shima Trading as a new graduate in 2006. He majored in international communication at university and also spent time studying in the United States. He chose Shima Trading because he wanted a job that would allow him to make use of what he had learned by working with people in other countries. He was involved in sales operations for a wide variety of products, including lubricants and thermal insulation materials. He was assigned overseas on multiple occasions and helped to establish a new office in Indonesia. He is known for his willingness to take on new challenges with a smile.

Advances in Israel attracting intense interest amid the shift to organic farming

In recent years, there has been global increase in organic farming, in part because of environmental concerns. In 2018, the percentage of farmland used for organic farming, which is characterized by the avoidance of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, reached 1.5% of the world’s total area of arable land. The pace of expansion has been especially rapid in Europe. In Japan, however, the area used for organic farming amounts to only 237,000 hectares, which is equivalent to just 0.5% of the country’s farmland (based on Ministry Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries surveys). A major obstacle to the introduction of organic farming is the difficulty of maintaining management efficiency and crop yields without relying on chemicals, in part because of a shortage of farm labor in Japan.
 Shima Trading has taken a keen interest in the use of mycorrhizal fungi as an alternative to chemical fertilizers in Israel. These fungi live on the roots of plants and help them to absorb phosphorus and other nutrients. We began to explore the potential for introducing this method in Japan as a way of contributing to the spread of organic farming.

Accelerated collection of reliable data to overcome issues relating to crop differences and the lack of a track record

Paddy rice growing is Japan’s dominant type of farming in terms of area. However, the mycorrhizal fungus method has never been used for paddy farming in Israel. In addition, this is Shima Trading’s first agriculture-related project. Mycorrhizal fungi exist in Japan, but we need reliable test data to reassure users about its effectiveness in Japanese soil. We are working with farmers, university, and agricultural centers in various parts of Japan to gather that data.
 Verification will take a considerable period of time, in part because of the long lead time required for each harvest. However, if the research goes according to plan, it will help to expand organic farming while also improving soil quality. We see this as a long-term initiative with the potential to protect the environment and ensure the future safety and security of food supplies.

Key Point

Moving forward step by step toward an ambitious goal

Shima Trading has a corporate culture characterized by an emphasis on agile footwork and frontline initiatives. While our customers are aware that we are a trading company with no products of our own, they are unlikely to be reassured by data gathered by someone sitting in front of a computer in an office. We therefore prioritize going out into the field to check situations for ourselves, especially for this project, which is our first agriculture-related product development initiative. I visit test farms all over Japan and have a hands-on involvement at all stages from sowing and planting to harvesting. While this approach will take time, I am determined to combine the roles of a salesperson working for a chemical trading company and an agricultural specialist. I see this commitment as the first step toward the achievement of our ambitious goal of enriching food culture while protecting the earth.