The Future of HOSHIIMO – Part1

[Hoshi-imo gakko (meaning dried-sweet potato school)] project has been started to advocate and research the dried sweet potato which is grown and produced in the Hitachi-naka region of Ibaraki prefecture in Japan.

The first attempt was to research hoshi-imo. The results of the research have been compiled in the nearly 450 pages book called, [Hoshi-imo gakko]. The project aims to concern the lifestyle and making people familiarized with hoshi-imo, and to look beyond the future through promoting hoshi-imo.

We interviewed Mr. Rikio Koizumi from the Hitachi-naka Chamber of Commerce and Mr. Hiroyuki Onizawa from Koda-shoten Co., Ltd., who passionately leads this project.

(C)Hoshiimo-gakko

Hoshi-imo gakko launched after years of twists and turns

Mr. Koizumi had been pondering how to vitalize the local production including the dried-sweet potato which produces almost 90% of the whole production in Japan, yet very “un-known”.

In 2007, he decided to apply for the national government program, called “Program for the local resource utilization” which comes in the form of subsidies, tax waiver and loan if the proposed project matches with the scheme of this national program.

It was a “hunch” he said. Since this national program was just started, he desperately wanted to be acknowledged as a first project to this national program. And there, he started to call on the young business owners who may share the innovative idea with him, and push through the project for the future of local industry vitalization.

He recalls that his thoughts back then. Sometimes, when the innovative and speedy kick-off are necessary, you need only few peers who looks at the same direction and goals. He quickly convinces the three business owners to participate in the project when he was about to apply to the government.

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