Japan Is Replacing Its Farmers with Robots

By Justine Sterling Posted April 26, 2016

Delicious produce, fresh from farmer robot.

Robots are clearly unfit for restaurant work, but maybe manual labor is more suited to their skillset. At least, that’s what Japan hopes.

According to Bloomberg, the average age of a Japanese farmer is 67 and the younger generation shows no interest in taking over the industry. The country is facing a farmer shortage. In response, Japan’s agriculture ministers recently met to address this issue and came up with a solution: robots. The country’s ministry of agriculture wants to dedicate 4 billion yen ($36 million) to developing autonomous tractors and twenty different types of farming robots—including a wearable, robotic backpack that helps aging farmers harvest and carry produce and a robot that can separate out overripe peaches.

The initiative is far from a pipe dream. It’s already underway. Kubota Corp. has already created a prototype for an autonomous tractor that can cultivate and fertilize rice paddies.

Not only will the army of robot farmers help support Japan’s waning agricultural industry, but researchers also believe it could spark a newfound interest in farming in the younger generation. Who doesn’t want to pick peaches with a robot buddy?

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