How to solve the labor shortage in agriculture? Focusing on “casual experiences” and “potential needs in urban areas”

How to solve the labor shortage in agriculture? Focusing on “casual experiences” and “potential needs in urban areas”

Labor shortage in agriculture is a big issue today. Agriculture is vital to achieving the SDGs. Its weakening can result in an unstable food supply and economic decline in rural areas. Using online behavioral data, we will analyze the segment with potential interest in agriculture and ways to solve the labor shortage.


A 30% decrease in agricultural workers in seven years. Average age is over 65

First, let's understand the current state of labor shortage in agriculture. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the number of core agricultural workers* have decreased by about 500,000 between 2015 and 2022.
In addition, the average age of core agricultural workers has remained around 67 for the past several years. In Japan, people ages 65 and over are considered “elderly.” The average age of those considered core agricultural workers was 68.4 years old in 2022, indicating the severity of aging in the industry.

*Refers to those who are mainly engaged in self-employed farming as a regular job

Material from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries translated by VALUES

The farming population in 2022 declined by about 30% since 2015. In addition, agricultural workers are progressively aging. In 2015, about 65% of the core agricultural workers were over 65 years old, but as of 2022, it has risen to about 70%.
Agricultural work is physically demanding, so there is no end to the number of people who need to retire due to their physical limitations as they get older. On the other hand, there are not enough young workers coming in, and there are no signs of recovery in the number of agricultural workers.

Agriculture is closely related to the SDGs

Improving labor shortages in agriculture is an important issue that contribute to the SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) initiatives. By promoting sustainable agriculture, we will contribute to a stable food supply to solve Goal 1 "No Poverty" and Goal 2 "Zero Hunger." In addition, if agriculture is revitalized and local economies develop, it will lead to the achievement of Goal 8 "Decent Work and Economic Growth" and Goal 9 "Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure."

In addition, agriculture impacts the environment. While being conscious of crop production efficiency, we must not forget to consider the environment in order to achieve Goal 7 "Affordable and Clean Energy," Goal 11 "Sustainable Cities and Communities," and Goal 13 "Climate Action."

In this way, agriculture has the potential to contribute to the achievement of several SDGs. In order to engage in the SDGs through agriculture, there is an urgent need to improve production efficiency by promoting smart agriculture and to secure labor resources.

Are easy and casual experiences the key to attracting the new demographic?

Next, we will analyze what kind of people are interested in agriculture. By finding the potential segment of people, we may be able to identify which demographics farms should work to reach when trying to secure human resources in agriculture. For the analysis, we use VALUES' online behavioral analytics tool "Dockpit," which allows you to analyze competitor websites and research trends using behavioral data updated monthly, all within your browser.

Let's check the gender and age group ratio of the people who searched for the word "agriculture.” In terms of gender, about 60% of the respondents were male. The actual male-to-female ratio of agricultural workers is also about 6:4, so it is consistent.

Regarding age, we found that there were many searches from people in their 20s to 40s. This result is different from the current age ratio of agricultural workers. There must be a certain number of people in the potential segment among the younger generation who are interested in farming, but are not employed as agricultural workers. In agriculture, according to the definition by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, people under the age of 49 are considered "young people." Figuring out how to secure human resources under the age of 49 will be essential for solving the problem around the decline in agriculture.

Gender and age group ratio of people searching “agriculture”
Period: May 2022 - April 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

What are the needs among the people searching in regards to agriculture? The table below shows the keywords searched in combination with "agriculture" in order of the most to fewest number of searches.

Looking at the rankings, we found several keywords at the top of the ranking that appear to suggest that people are considering a job in agriculture, such as "job posting," "part-time job," "side job," and "job change." On the other hand, those who also search “agriculture" in combination with "subsidy" or "tax return" are probably those already working in agriculture.

Ranking of keywords searched in combination with "agriculture"
Period: May 2022 - April 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

In order to engage in agriculture, it is necessary to secure a field and farming equipment, and the know-how on how to grow crops, so it requires a lot of preparation and commitment. Some people may feel that even if they are interested in agriculture, the barriers for starting are high.

In order to attract such a demographic, it may be important to prepare more effortless and less intimidating ways to begin, such as by trying a "part-time job," "side job," and "agricultural experience,” for an easier start.

The emergence of a new form of employment that is as short as one day

How can we create opportunities that allow people to casually experience agriculture? There are services that already offer this. In the data mentioned earlier, the first place on the ranking of inflow webpage of people searching "agriculture" in combination with "part-time job" was a service that offers part-time agricultural work that lasts as little as one day. It is the "one-day part-time app” called “daywork" operated by the company "Kamakura Industries."

“daywork” is a “matching” service that connects farmers, who want to temporarily recruit workers even for just the busy farming season, and job seekers, who want to try farming on their days off from their regular jobs. Under conventional employment contracts, it was common for employees to work continuously for at least several weeks, but with the "daywork" app, people can work for durations starting as short as one day.

Some companies put limitations on side jobs in their work regulations, but in recent years, there have been moves to gradually lift the bans. Agricultural part-time jobs do not require a PC and can be a side job with a low risk for data leaks from your main job, exhibiting lower risks company employers. For this reason, for companies, there is also the advantage that although “it is difficult to completely lift the ban on all side jobs, it is easy to approve side jobs if they are in agricultural work."

Material from the "daywork" website translated by VALUES

"daywork" is a service that was just launched in 2019, but the number of users is steadily increasing. If you actually look at it through Dockpit, you can see that the number of “daywork” app users is increasing.

Changes in the number of “daywork” users
Period: June 2021 - May 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

"daywork" can be said to be an example of a service that meets the needs of "people who want to casually start farming." Currently, there are job postings in 37 prefectures, mainly in Hokkaido, Aomori, Akita, Yamagata, and Nagano. If such a service spreads throughout the country, it will be a major solution to the problem surrounding the decline in agriculture.

The potential segment for agricultural experiences is concentrated in urban areas

Agricultural experiences, where people can casually experience farming, are effective ways to get people interested in agriculture. What specific kinds of people are interested in these agricultural experiences?
The graph below shows the gender and age group ratio of those who searched for “agriculture” (reposted) and the gender and age group ratio of those who searched for “agricultural experience.” Comparing the two, while “agriculture” was searched more by males, the ratio between males and females was almost reversed in searches for “agricultural experience.” Although there is a high possibility that more men are actually considering farming as a job, more women may want to experience it casually.

Also, when comparing the ratio across age groups, it was found that the percentage of people in their 30s and 40s who searched for “agricultural experience” was higher than that for “agriculture” alone. For people in their 30s and 40s, there are many parents who have children under the age of 20, so there may be a need for the opportunity to educate their own children about food through agricultural experiences.

Gender and age group ratio of people searching “agriculture” and “agricultural experience”
Period: May 2022 - April 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

Next, let's take a look at the area of residence of the potential segment for agricultural experiences. The graph below shows the percentage of areas where people searching for "agriculture" and "agricultural experience" reside. From the graph, it can be seen that searches for "agricultural experience" are concentrated in the Kanto region compared to those searching for "agriculture."
Which prefecture in the Kanto region had the most searches? In addition, how many people that are interested in experiencing farming actually go on to execute or engage in those agricultural experiences?

Area of residence of people searching “agriculture” and “agricultural experiences”
Period: May 2022 – April 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

Let's take a closer look. The figure below shows the prefectures where people searching "agricultural experience" live, and the darker the blue color, the higher the percentage of searches. Here, we will also compare the prefectures where the "daywork" app users live.

First, when we look at the percentage of prefectures where people who searched "agricultural experience" live, we found that the prefectures with the largest search ratios were in Tokyo, Saitama, Kanagawa, Chiba, Osaka, and Fukuoka. These areas are often densely populated with houses and company offices, and many of the younger generation are not familiar with farming, so there may be a need among those who want to give farming a try and parents who want their children to try farming. In particular, Tokyo, which had the highest number of searches, accounting for 24.8% of all searches for "agricultural experience," and it seems that there is a great need to experience farming among people living in Tokyo.

On the other hand, if we look at the prefectures where "daywork" app users live, the ratio of people in Hokkaido, Yamagata, and Nagano prefectures is particularly large, and there seems to be some correlation between the number of job postings and the number of users. Conversely, Tokyo, which had the highest percentage of searches for "agricultural experience," had only accounted for 1.6% of "daywork" users.

Left: Ratio of people across prefectures searching for "agricultural experience"
Right: Ratio of prefecture of residence among "daywork" users
Period: May 2022 - April 2023
Devices: PC, smartphone

"daywork" is just an example, but if you look at other job websites and websites recruiting for agricultural experiences, the number of job postings tends to be concentrated in areas with abundant farmland, such as Hokkaido, Nagano and other prefectures in the Tohoku region.

For example, on the website "Nogyo Oshigoto Navi (Agricultural Work Search)," which ranks first in the ranking of inflow webpages resulting from the search for "agriculture" and "job posting,” the number of job postings was as follows.

Hokkaido: 76
Nagano: 40
Tokyo: 5
Kanagawa: 9
http://www.agreen.jp/

Similarly, the number of job postings on the second largest inflow website "Agri Navi" is as follows.

Hokkaido: 402
Nagano: 93
Tokyo: 33
Kanagawa: 36
https://www.agri-navi.com/

However, those who were more likely to have a need for agricultural experience were those who lived in urban areas such as Tokyo. In order for more people to experience agriculture, it will be key to reach residents of urban areas, where you can expect a potential need.

For those living in urban areas, experiencing farming requires traveling long distances, which can increase the barriers for participation. Therefore, it is effective to provide opportunities that offer more casual experiences and to add value to events.
For example, farms can offer agricultural experiences in areas easily accessible from Tokyo and day-trip programs for Tokyo residents. Alternatively, events similar to the idea of temporary resort jobs where you can stay for a few days, work in the fields, get paid, and go sightseeing during your free time might be attractive to the potential segment. As a result, participants can experience farming and reduce the cost of sightseeing, so it is possible to lower the barriers for participation.

Summary

We explored the possibility of potential needs to solve the problem of labor shortage in agriculture. In summary, we found the following:

・In recent years, the decline in the number of agricultural workers and the aging population have become majro issues.
・In order for more people to experience agriculture, it is also important to offer casual, less-intimidating experiences.
・The popularity of agricultural work that can be experienced starting from as little as one day is also growing.
・Many women and people in their 30s and 40s are interested in agricultural experiences.
・Valuable potential needs can be expected in urban areas where there is little interaction with agriculture.

Although it has been difficult to attract and recruit young people to work in agriculture, it seems that there is plenty of interest among young people. Providing opportunities for flexible, hands-on experience that are not bound by the limitations that accompany conventional employment may be an opportunity to acquire new agricultural workers.

About Dockpit

▼Data from Dockpit was used in this case study. Dockpit is an online behavior analytics tool provided by VALUES, Inc., and it allows you to access online behavioral data (updated monthly) via your browser so you can research competitor websites and investigate trends. There is a FREE version of Dockpit, so if you are interested in using it, please register below.

dockpit Get free version

※日本語での記事はこちらをご確認ください

農業の人手不足、どう解消する?「体験の気軽さ」と「都市部の潜在ニーズ」に注目

https://manamina.valuesccg.com/articles/2454

農業の人手不足は、現代の農業において重要な課題の一つです。農業はSDGsの取り組みとしても重要な役割を担います。農業が衰退してしまうと、食料の供給が不安定になる、農村地域の経済が衰退するなどの悪影響を引き起こします。そこで今回は、消費者のWeb行動ログデータを用いて、潜在的に農業に関心を持っている層を分析し、人手不足解消の糸口を考察します。

この記事のライター

Born and raised in the Bay Area, U.S.A, I was fascinated by the different social and purchasing behaviors between Japanese and American consumers. I studied communication for undergrad and international marketing for my graduate studies. My professional background is in bilingual recruitment and Japanese-English translation.

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