Japanese Immigrants Who Supported the Development of Paraguay—The Achievements That Made Paraguay the World’s Fourth Largest Soybean Exporter and an Implementer of New Initiatives for Industrial Diversification
Project History is a publication series from the JICA Ogata Sadako Research Institute for Peace and Development (JICA Ogata Research Institute). The series reviews past JICA projects and analyzes their trajectories and outcomes. “Japanese Immigrants Who Supported the Development of Paraguay—The Achievements that Made Paraguay the World’s Fourth Largest Soybean Exporter and an Implementer of New Initiatives for Industrial Diversification” is the fifth English-language book in this series.
Paraguay is a leading agricultural exporter in South America. Its 2018/19 soybean production reached approximately 10 million tonnes, making the country the world’s fourth largest soybean exporter. Thus, soybeans are particularly great contributors as a source of foreign currency and economic development for the country. However, it is mostly unknown that the first soybean seeds in Paraguay were sowed by the hands of Japanese immigrants who settled in the country about 80 years ago and that soybean farming was commercially established through the efforts and devoted studies within their communities. Although Japanese immigrants reached Paraguay in 1936, it was not until 1960 that they were finally able to export 360 tonnes of soybeans to Japan for the first time via Buenos Aires. Things continued to be tough but the 1973 soybean market price soar in Chicago created an opportunity for farmers to stabilize their business through a soybean-wheat crop rotation system and develop the foundation for the growth of Japanese settlements.
In addition to soybean production, this book also covers how Japanese immigrants in Paraguay are working in other industries: processing agricultural commodities from integrated farming and multiple cropping that have been expanded from soybean farming; sesame production, an industry that is new to the country; and in the auto parts industry.
The book is a compilation of the works of four authors—three with experience working at the JICA Paraguay Office and one with experience in conducting a study on inclusive development in Paraguay—and illustrates the history of the contribution of Japanese immigrants to the Paraguayan economy over the years. This book shows one side of the history of the Paraguay-Japan relationship and the original version in Japanese was published in 2019, a commemorable year marking the centenary of the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.