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Working conditions and labor flexibility in non-family farms: weather-based labor management by Japanese paddy rice corporations

Hironori Yagi and Tsuneo Hayashi

International Food and Agribusiness Management Review, 2021, vol. 24, issue 2

Abstract: Improving working conditions in agriculture is of great concern throughout the world. Just as in other industries, many young farm workers prefer to work as salaried employees, which has brought attention to non-family farms as providers of employment opportunities. However, in the presence of a strong need to flexibly respond to weather, there is still difficulty regarding whether workplaces without overworking can exist. This study is based on in-depth surveys of non-family rice farms in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. Our findings suggest that even in non-family farms, holiday-setting is done flexibly to account for weather, and systems that allow for harvesting at appropriate times are in place. During the busy farming period, in joint-stock farms, where multiple farmers invest together, full-time employees work overtime. In contrast, in community farms, many community residents take turns for working, which allows work to be done on time. A closer analysis of work records shows that, in either organizational structure, specific members need to overwork. Reasons behind this include issues with sunk costs in the form of monthly wages, lack of skills among part-time employees, and the communication costs of coordinating with many part-time employees.

Keywords: International Development; Labor and Human Capital (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2021
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.316245

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