Japanese tour pleads for KI to stay GM-free

Japanese visitors urge KI farmers to stay GM-free

Agribusiness
CONDUIT: Shigemi Hirata helped set up a relationship between KI Pure Grain and Japanese food delivery company Palsystem Consumers' Co-operative Union.

CONDUIT: Shigemi Hirata helped set up a relationship between KI Pure Grain and Japanese food delivery company Palsystem Consumers' Co-operative Union.

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A Japanese delegation recently made an impassioned plea to KI farmers to stay GM-free.

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A Japanese delegation visited Kangaroo Island recently, and made an impassioned plea to local farmers to stay GM-free.

It was the 10th annual visit to the island organised by KI Pure Grain and Japanese food delivery company Palsystem Consumers' Co-operative Union.

It is also the 10th year that all of KI's canola is exported to Japan, marketed as ethically-produced, single-origin and GM-free.

The sale to Japan means KI farmers receive a premium price for their canola.

Tour organiser and trade consultant Chris Wood said the relationship started in 2006 when Japanese food processor Shigemi Hirata made inquiries about buying all of KI's canola.

This led to the island's grain marketing company, KI Pure Grain, to be founded.

"The farmers initially did not believe all their canola could go to one company that was willing to pay a premium price," Mr Wood said.

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Mr Hirata processes the canola using natural vinegar instead of petro-chemicals, then it is sold through the Palsystem's catalogue.

Mr Hirata was on the tour, along with representatives from Kanematsu Australia - the Sydney trading company that exports KI's canola to Japan.

The SA government recently announced it planned to lift the state's GM moratorium on the mainland, but KI would remain GM-free.

During a special dinner after the tour, the delegation presented a video that thanked KI farmers for sticking with GM-free crops and urging them to continue.

KIPG CEO Shane Mills assured delegates that the company would do everything it could to maintain KI's GM-free status.

The tour also took in the Island Beehive honey factory, where owner Peter Davis talked about his organic certification.

Thanks to the KIPG relationship, the Palsystem catalogue now sells his KI honey and was also looking at expanding to offer other KI products, such as broad beans, barley and wheat flour.

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