Oil Prices And The Effects On Agriculture

Surging crude oil prices due to political unrest in the Middle East have begun to hit Japan's fishing and agricultural industries, reports NHK World, noting that the price of a liter of light oil reached about 140 Yen ($1.10) in February:

Fishermen at Otsu Port in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, have started to shorten or suspend their operations due to rising fuel prices. A farmer in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, who uses fuel to grow cucumbers in hothouses from December to April says his fuel costs are expected to rise by a few thousand dollars. Workplaces for making wood crafts and lodging facilities in Ueno Village in Gunma Prefecture, north of Tokyo, now burn crushed timber called pellets for stoves and boilers. Forestry is the village's main industry.

Much of the food we eat comes from agricultural practices that rely on oil or gasoline in one way or the other. Almost no farmers can produce food without tractors and other tools that runs directly on fuel. But conventional farming also relies on commercial chemical fertilizers, which are energy-intensive to make. It is impossible to produce cheap NPK fertilizers (Nitrogen, Phosphor and Potassium) without factories, and while Nitrogen have been made in the past using hydro (water power, for example near huge dams) this will not easily be an option today. But that's not all: farmers also use plastic, for example for the vinyl tunnels that protect the crops during the cold season, and for packaging. Finally, the food must be delivered to your local shop or supermarket. High oil prices will affect every step from farm to fork. And, don't get me started on imports...


Anonymous said…
Thanks for this. Looks like twenty-eleven is shaping up just like 2008 did.

Tom O said…
Are you trying to say that the substantial imports into Japan are brought by container ships/tankers/planes all fuelled by, lets see.. ;o))

Lets not forget this guy and what he is trying to bring to the table:

Pandabonium said…
Tom O - are you trying to say that you Brits eat so many chips that we can power the world's cars on the used cooking oil? ;^)

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