Japanese electronics companies turn to enter agriculture sector

Global Business

After losing the price war for computer chips and flat screens to rivals in China and South Korea, Japanese electronics makers are turning to agricultural technology to try to raise revenue and develop new markets. CCTV America’s Mike Firn reported this story from Kawagoe, Japan. 

Panasonic plans to sell 1,000 climate-controlled greenhouses by 2018, with sales targets of $43 million.

Japanese electronics companies turn to enter agriculture sector

After losing the price war for computer chips and flat screens to rivals in China and South Korea, Japanese electronics makers are turning to agricultural technology to try to raise revenue and develop new markets. CCTV America's Mike Firn reported this story from Kawagoe, Japan.

“We use an environmental control system to control the water, light and air flow. It enables you to grow plants in an energy efficient way. We use ordinary agricultural materials for the facilities but we use very precise methods to control the environment in the greenhouse using pumps and motors,” said Takayoshi Tanizawa, new business planning group manager at the Panasonic Eco Solutions Company.

Toshio Morishita has been testing the system since 2013 at his farm in Kawagoe, about an hour`s drive from Tokyo. This year he said he’ll harvest eight crops of spinach from the greenhouses, compared to three from his fields.

“At the height of summer it gets really hot here, spinach is a very delicate vegetable, and it gets quite hard to harvest. But ideally we want to sell it all year round. So we wanted a system to help us do that,” Morishita said.

The Passive Environmental Control System is only available in Japan at the moment but Panasonic says it wants to sell the technology overseas, with China top of its list.

Panasonic isn’t the only Japanese electronics company cultivating new business opportunities, Fujitsu is using hydroponics to grow low-potassium lettuce aimed at the more than 13 million Japanese suffering from chronic kidney problems.

Toshiba is also using clean-room farms to grow leaf vegetables, hoping to sell 3 million bags of vegetables a year and using the same distribution technology that it uses to sell semiconductors.