TORU OTSUKI, Nikkei Staff Writer Courtesy of NikkeiAsia

Kankyo Daizen’s fertilizer wins over farmers in Vietnam and Cambodia

ASAHIKAWA, Japan – An organic produce company based in northern Japan hopes its eco-friendly fertilizer made from cow urine will appeal to farmers in Southeast Asia.

The liquid fertilizer, Tsuchi Ikikaeru – or “the earth comes to life” – is sold in five countries including Vietnam and Cambodia. Agricultural lands in much of Southeast Asia are facing degradation and declining fertility, the result of long-standing overuse of agrochemicals.

Kankyo Daizen collects urine from dairy farmers in Hokkaido, the northernmost island in Japan, where the company is located. In 2012, she started exporting Tsuchi Ikikaeru to agricultural producers through two Japanese trading houses.

Cow urine, which is often dumped in rivers or sprayed on farmland, contaminates water sources and gives off a foul odor. Kankyo Daizen has made this nuisance a valuable resource for Hokkaido farmers. Today, the natural soil amendment is gaining new customers abroad.

Kankyo Daizen, which also makes organic air fresheners, estimates its overall sales rose 11% to 230 million yen ($ 2.13 million) for the 12 months ended January. Its overseas activities have grown and now represent 10% of total revenue, as the company has expanded its sales channels.

“Southeast Asia has a young and growing population,” said Kankyo Daizen President Makoto Kubonouchi. “It’s a promising market as long as we can meet the registration requirements in different countries. “

Kankyo Daizen’s eco-friendly liquid fertilizer is making its way into Vietnam and elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Growing incomes in Southeast Asia have spurred interest in more natural farming practices in the region. Kankyo Daizen’s organic fertilizer, for example, is a good substitute for conventional agrochemicals. The company claims the product, which is diluted with water when applied, is an effective growth promoter for a wide range of crops, including rice, vegetables, flowering plants and shrimp. breeding. It also helps maintain soil fertility when the same crop is grown on the same plot of land year after year.

Kankyo Daizen also plans to sell Tsuchi Ikikaeru in Malaysia and the Philippines, but he is not limiting his ambitions to Asia. In February, Kubonouchi visited Brazil as part of a research tour organized by the Japan International Cooperation Agency, inspecting large farms growing crops such as soybeans and sugar cane. The company plans to explore market opportunities there after receiving a positive response from local farmers. One challenge to overcome is the cost of shipping, given the distance between Japan and Brazil.

In Japan, the company works with a number of dairy farmers in Kitami and areas along the Sea of ​​Okhotsk. The manufacturing process begins with the fermentation of cow urine using a special mixture of microbes. The liquid is collected in a tanker truck and then fermented again in six 18-ton tanks at Kankyo Daizen headquarters. The company believes that lactic acid bacteria and yeast grown with cow’s urine inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria in the soil.

Kankyo Daizen markets 50 products in all, including a clear, colorless liquid designed to eliminate household odors. Fertilizer and deodorant look different, but the bacteria in them work the same. The company provided the deodorant free of charge to evacuation shelters and temporary toilets in areas affected by recent earthquakes in northern Japan.

Kankyo Daizen has verified the effectiveness of its products derived from cow urine in tests conducted at the Kitami Institute of Technology. But mysteries remain, including how the active ingredient is formed through fermentation and how it reduces odors and increases soil fertility. The company plans to work with a private research group to solve these puzzles.

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