Scholar Profile - 2021 Winner

Kosuke Kubo - Japan

Study: The feasibility of free-range dairy farming to build a successful model in Japan

Kosuke Kubo, from the Hiroshima region of Japan, receives a 2021 Nuffield International Scholarship supported by Norinchukin Bank. Kosuke becomes the second scholar to be awarded a Nuffield Scholarship from Japan.

Kosuke is Managing Director of Sagotani, a 35-ha Japanese dairy business with 120 cows. Sagotani was founded by Kosuke's grandfather in 1941 to localise dairy production and to improve the livelihood of local farmers. The business produces milk and dairy products with almost 30 employees and an annual turnover of 500 million yen.

Kosuke joined the business in 2016 as Sales General Manager and developed the business into an 'experience', establishing various direct sales channels such as a farm caf and an online business. Sagotani now brings in over 80,000 visitors annually.

As part of his scholarship, Kosuke's research aims to explore the feasibility of free-range dairy farming to build a successful model in Japan.

"I believe that free-range is good for the environment, is sustainable and improves animal welfare, yet only ten per cent of dairy farmers in Japan practice free-range," he says.

"The reasons for the low uptake include Japan's uniquely steep and narrow landscape, the Japanese farmer tradition of maximising milk volume per head, and the lack of awareness about free-range practices.

"Reducing the amount of feed purchased by a free-range dairy would enhance the profitability of the farm, as well as lead to forest conservation and the use of abandoned arable land in Japan".

Kosuke is a Board Member with the Development of Local Resources and Protection of the Natural Environment and is a local nursery director of a social welfare corporation called Ai Fukushikai. He holds a Bachelor of Economics from Doshisha University, Kyoto, and has qualifications in business law, accounting and financial analysis. In 2005, he won the all-Japan University Yacht Championship.

His career goal is to contribute to his local economy and provide people with opportunities to have a direct experience with dairy and farming.

"As a Nuffield Scholar, I want to study how farming is done in other parts of the world to help me gain advanced farming techniques and reflect on my own farming style. I hope to build an international network of fellow farmers with whom I can exchange good, long-term practices".

The Norinchukin Bank is a Japanese cooperative bank contributing the development of Japan's agriculture, fishery and forestry industries. The bank is one of the largest commercial banks in Japan and is known as a global institutional investor, total assets of which are approximately US$ 1 trillion.

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