The whole town is organic. “Aya-cho”

The whole town is organic. "Aya-cho"


The entire town working together

“Good morning.” People come one after another with vegetables in their hands, and greet each other cheerfully. ”Aya Tezukuri Honmono Center” located in Aya-cho, Miyazaki Prefecture is a direct sales center for organic agricultural crops. Based on the town’s own safety standards, it sells produce ranked gold, silver and copper. The vegetables are brought in by the local farmers themselves, and vegetables are arranged on the shelf of their choice. It is also up to them to decide the price. Some people exchange homemade dishes there, and for those who bring the vegetables, it also serves as a place of gathering to chat and see each other.
Aya-cho is located in the middle of Miyazaki prefecture and is surrounded by the Ayakita River and Ayaminami River of the central mountainous region of Kyushu. It is one of Japan’s biggest laurel forest zone. It was designated as Kyushu-Chuo Sanchi Semi-national Park in 1986, and it serves as an important habitat for plants, birds, animals, and fish. Aya-cho is also famous for their efforts to use organic farming, involving the entire town, serving as a model for other municipalities. Attracted by the fact that the entire town was involved in the endeavor, we decided to visit Aya-cho.

Why don’t or aren’t able to go organic

“In Aya-cho, they have established an institution that provides local farmers with advice for making good soil. They have also established an independent standard for healthy soil making and cultivation of farmland, and a crop cultivation management standard. In organic farming, soil conditions influence the taste, shape, color, and the appearance of crops. Soil making is very important, so they also place great effort into compost production, in order to preserve the ecology of the microorganisms in the soil. This also allows them to draw out the original power of the soil to create an environment suitable for the growth of the crops. An “”Aya method”” self-sufficient fertilizer supply facility was built, and compost circulation of waste was also implemented, helping to reduce waste while creating great soil. These initiatives have helped reduce CO2, water pollution, organic waste and the use of chemical pesticides, contributing to the reduction of environmental stress.

With the recent interest in how food tastes as well as food safety, what prevents the farmers from choosing to go organic? We discussed the issue with farmers who operated organic farms. When we asked if it was possible for all farmers to operate the ideal style of agriculture and still make a living, we were told it was not. This was true even in an environment like Aya-ho. Even farmers who have been practicing organic farming for 10 years still find it difficult to make a stable income, requiring some to take on second jobs.



Always looking ahead

When running an organic farm, one is faced with the problem of weeds and insects. Some farmers pluck them manually, some incorporate the duck farming method, but either way it requires hard work and a lot of labor, so it is difficult to expand the farmland, and as a result, the yield is limited. There is also the problem of lack of successors in Aya-cho, just like all other farming areas.
There is a prefectural group of second generation farmers who work together and operate as a support system, but there will still be a serious shortage of labor when the elderly farmers retire. There is the added problem of limited sales channels. Sales channels must be expanded where the products can compete based on quality and taste. Although there are direct sales shops like the one introduced earlier, in order to attract more customers, there needs to be greater awareness of the quality and safety of the products.
Progressing from the initial stage where the novelty of organic farming was enough, the second stage requires something more than being organic or pesticide free. Although there are many challenges and issues that need to be addressed, the people in Aya-cho seemed to be proud of what they were accomplishing, and their expressions were filled with satisfaction and fulfillment as they looked ahead to the future. It will definitely be interesting to see how Aya-cho develops over the next 10 to 20 years.


Aya Tezukuri Honmono Center
515 Minamimata, Aya-cho, Higashi-Morokata-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture