Project History is a publication series from 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. “Los Inmigrantes Japoneses y su Contribución al Desarrollo del Paraguay – Contribución al Posicionamiento del País como el Cuarto Mayor Exportador de Soja en el Mundo y Nuevas Iniciativas para la Diversificación Industrial” (Translates to “The Contribution of Japanese Immigrants to Paraguay’s Development: Making the Country the World’s Fourth Soybean Exporter and New Efforts Toward Industrial Diversification”) was published in June 2022, as the first ever book in this series in Spanish. (An English version will be out in 2023.)
Paraguay is one of the largest agricultural exporters of South America. In particular, soybeans are great contributors as a source of foreign currency and economic development with the 2018/19 production reaching approximately 10 million tonnes, making the country the world’s fourth largest soybean exporter. It is mostly unknown, however, that the first seeds were sowed by the hands of Japanese immigrants who settled in the country about 80 years ago and soybean farming was commercially established through the efforts and devoted studies in their communities. After moving to Paraguay in 1936, they were finally able to export 360 tonnes of soybeans to Japan for the first time via Buenos Aires in 1960. Things still remained tough but the soybean market price soar in Chicago in 1973 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.
Moreover, this book covers how in addition to soybean production, Japanese immigrants in Paraguay are working on downstream soybean processing and sesame production which 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 describes the history of the contribution of Japanese immigrants to the Paraguayan economy over the years. The original version in Japanese showing one side of the history of the Paraguay-Japan relationship was published in 2019, a commemorable year marking the centenary of the establishment of the diplomatic relationship between the two countries.