Develop a business to cultivate Japanese tiger prawns on Taketomi Island.
Introduced "Kuruma prawn automatic sorter"
Growing up in one of the best natural environments in Japan, which is rare on a manned island,
The finest prawns
"Originally, Taketomi Island has favorable conditions for tiger prawn farming. The seawater temperature of 25 ℃ or more and less than 34 ℃ can be maintained all year round, and it takes 1 hour by plane to Naha Airport. Because it is a location that can be delivered nationwide in one day from there. "
Masato Kasai, the director of the tiger prawn farming at Euglena
Taketomi Island is said to be a particularly blessed environment among the remote islands of Okinawa, which is rich in nature. There are no commercial farmlands or rivers on Taketomi Island. In the Nansei Islands, where it rains about 3,000 mm a year, pesticides and red soil sprinkled on farmland may soon flow into the sea, but on Taketomi Island, where there is no commercial farmland, pesticides are used too much to control pests. I don't. At the same time, Taketomi Island has the southernmost sewage treatment plant in Japan, which is fully equipped with sewage treatment, so domestic wastewater does not flow directly into the sea.
Kuruma prawns are grown with the purest seawater in the waters near Japan and the highest quality food. Its sweetness was superb, and it became popular at the first auction at the Toyosu Market in Tokyo, which was held at the beginning of 2020.
"Shrimp grow really well compared to Kume Island, which I used to have."
It is no exaggeration to say that Kasai's career was dedicated to prawns. After studying biology at university, after graduating, he worked with feed companies on research and development of feed for prawns at various fisheries sites. He has also visited the world to procure raw materials. After working for about 30 years at a prawn farm set up on Kume Island, he consulted with overseas fisheries sites.
It was in 2015 that Kasai was called upon by Taketomi shrimp farming. It is also the year that the company joined the Euglena
At that time, the company was on the verge of survival.
Challenges remaining after getting out of bicycle operation
To improve "labor productivity and working environment"
Taketomi Island, Okinawa Prefecture, surrounded by abundant nature and the sea. Taketomi Shrimp Farming was founded in 1986 in this remote island town.
Even if you have a certain brand as a tourist destination, you cannot say that there are many employment opportunities on the island. There was no end to young people heading to the mainland of Okinawa and the mainland in search of a place to work. As a place of work on the island, I want to help maintain the local industry. It was a company called Taketomi Shrimp Farming that was launched with such thoughts.
Kasai was moved by the story. "This may be my last job." I joined the company in 2015 with such a determination.
However, Taketomi shrimp farming at that time was in a situation where even the survival of the company was in jeopardy. There is only one employee other than the president. Contrary to what he thought when he was founded, he was suffering from a constant shortage of human resources and was forced to work inefficiently.
"Before thinking about maintaining technology and local industry, we must first manage the ad hoc management up to that point. There was a lot of work to be done."
Improve the conditions with our business partners and develop new sales channels by making the best use of our existing personal connections. Kasai, who finally set his sights on securing profits, turned his attention to improving labor productivity and the working environment.
The number of people gradually increased in the second and third years, but there are no signs that labor productivity will increase.
It is extremely difficult to sort and pack a large number of live prawns according to the flight time of the aircraft. Many of the end users are "professionals" such as itamae and cooks, and such customers want to "purchase high-quality live prawns of a size suitable for each dish." In order to meet that expectation, the prawns landed today must be immediately sorted and shipped so that they can be put on the market the next day.
Nocturnal prawns are landed from midnight to dawn. Sorting and shipping a large number of 2.5 million fish a year must have been a task beyond imagination for employees who have just joined the company.
Can we somehow reduce this hard work?
What I noticed was a manufacturer who was developing a "machine that can sort pink shrimp on board." I heard that the pink shrimp industry is also short of labor, and the machines introduced have greatly contributed to improving productivity. If so, it could be applied to prawns.
The challenge was to secure a budget for large-scale capital investment. The ally who holds the key will emerge from an unexpected place. Shihori Inoue has been seconded from Euglena Co., Ltd. in Tokyo. He was an ally who was a year away like a parent and child.
"It doesn't help if you get caught up in such numbers!"
Determination after entering the site of Taketomi Island
Inoue was studying the effects of ocean acidification on coral reefs when he was a university student. Euglena I wanted to not only understand the world in the realm of academia, but also to be a member who actually changed the world.
I wanted to be assigned to the Corporate Strategy Department to work to change the world. Immediately after that, Euglena announced that it would join the Taketomi shrimp farming group. From that time, the relationship between Taketomi shrimp farming on Taketomi Island and Inoue started.
However, he faced the reality that "nothing can be changed remotely."
"Even after Taketomi shrimp farming Euglena Group, the problem of labor shortage could not be solved. Didn't seem to be effective. "
Let's go to Taketomi Island.
Inoue recalls that he decided to be seconded because "I myself liked the story of this company."
In Taketomi shrimp farming, I was in charge of cleaning, shipping, and feeding the farm together with the members of the field so that I could understand the site myself.
"Every day I learn from the people in the field. Every day, including Mr. Kasai, there were only people who could truly respect" I can be so enthusiastic about living things. " I sent it to
A site full of unpredictable variables that must move around shrimp rather than humans. It was a world that moved in a completely different context from the Tokyo office. Plans and budgets are important, but if you get too caught up in them, the site will not go around. After coming to Taketomi Island, Inoue confesses that he often collided with members of Tokyo.
"Even if work style reform is necessary, it is not possible to change the site only by the rules, and it is impossible to match the numbers created for the convenience of the management side." It doesn't matter if you are caught up in such numbers. I didn't! ”I once shouted over the phone.”
I also have to be one of the driving forces to change this situation. Inoue's belly has been decided.
Application work for subsidy adoption and Japan's longest business trip
The efforts of two people who pursued the same goal
The point for improving the working environment seemed to be the "introduction of an automatic sorting machine for prawns" proposed by Kasai. How to clear the budget securing that is an issue. Therefore, we started the challenge to utilize the "2019 Okinawa International Logistics Center Utilization Promotion Project Subsidy" publicly solicited by the Okinawa General Bureau of the Cabinet Office.
A plan to add value to the local industry of Taketomi Island, prawn farming, and to further develop it. And thoughts for business expansion. It is said that the work of incorporating them into the application form was also a series of hardships.
"I'm going to leave the site today because I'm writing an application, I'm sorry."
Inoue talks to the members and cares for both on-site work and application work. Kasai, on the other hand, spared no effort to realize it.
"Japan is the only country in the world to cultivate prawns. There are about 50 businesses in Japan, but we were the only ones trying to introduce an automatic sorter. In that sense, it was the world's first attempt. I didn't feel like I had to see everything with my own eyes. "
Kasai also went to Mashike Town in the northwestern part of Hokkaido to see the site where automatic sorting machines are being used. "I think going from Taketomi Island to Mashike is the longest business trip in Japan," Kasai recalls with a smile.
I decided to introduce it because I heard the story that "it can be selected at 1/3 the speed of human beings" and witnessed the actual situation.
"When a skilled staff sorts prawns, they can distinguish not only the size but also the freshness. In the case of a machine, only the size can be sorted, so human hands will have to look at the freshness again. Even if it is supplemented, a certain effect can be expected. "
Shorten the time of sorting work, increase labor productivity, and change the working environment. The long-cherished wish since I came to this company was finally about to come true.
And on June 14, 2019, Euglena Taketomi shrimp farming was decided to receive a subsidy. With the introduction of the automatic sorting machine, it was possible to sort high-quality prawns at a faster speed than before, further increasing the commercial value, and reducing the burden on the members working in the field.
You should be able to pay urban salaries
I want you to reaffirm the value of prawns locally and nationwide.
In this way, the prospect of connecting the shrimp farming business on Taketomi Island, which has been ongoing for 34 years, to the next generation has come to light.
"The next issue is what to do when the machine breaks. The skills of skilled staff have not been handed down yet. How to convey the feeling that cannot be made into a manual for living things. To that end, sit down on Taketomi Island. We have to gather people who can stay calm and work for a long time. "
Kasai says so. Even if there are young people in the area who want to help the guest house and work leisurely,
There are not many young people who want to get up from 4 o'clock in the morning and work for prawns.
"However, considering the current productivity, we should be able to pay salaries at the urban level. I want people from all over the country to be attracted to this business and get together."
Because it is a small company, there are many things that can be challenged.
"In the future, I would like the local people to reaffirm the value of the prawns on Taketomi Island. Now, we are making it possible for elementary and junior high school children on the island to freely visit the prawns. If you can think of it "
In response to Kasai's words, Inoue also talks about his thoughts on the future.
"The environment is gradually becoming more interesting to the children of the island, so I want to make it a more loved place. Some people like Mr. Kasai have academic knowledge, so" Joint research It would be interesting if more people come and go with the image of "doing". "
Euglena Taketomi shrimp farming continues.
Posted in January 2020
~ Euglena Taketomi shrimp farmed prawns ~
- Euglena Taketomi Shrimp Culture Co., Ltd.
Director Masato Kasai
In April 2015, he became the director of Taketomi Shrimp Culture Co., Ltd. (at that time), and in September 2015, the company joined the Euglena Group and Euglena Taketomi Shrimp Culture Co., Ltd. While supervising everything from aquaculture to sales, he is currently focusing on training successors.
"We had friends who supported the crisis in the company, and energetic and talented young people who were interested in this business came from all over the country. I am very happy that we have a foundation to take on new challenges."
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