The gap in socio-economic standards between the local and the central, or primary industries such as agriculture and other industries, has increased under the influence of economic globalization. As the specialists for researching the rural economy and society based on agriculture and forestry, we have to struggle to find a breakthrough in this crisis. As one approach to the problem, this essay calls for the transformation of our research perspective by first recognizing and reintroducing the values upon which all scientific research is ultimately based. Through reviewing the literature in our journal and its commemorative publication, we found that it tended toward a fixed way of analytical formation when studying the social phase of a rural life, that might be called a “goal-function” analysis. We urge that it be replaced by a perspective running in the opposite direction, that is, by an “intrinsic value-meaning creation” analysis, which is the second point proposed in this essay. This new perspective requires that we accept the wealth and affluence of rural society as a premise from the beginning and that we strive to diffuse this idea by research that takes on the aspects of a social reform movement.
This paper evaluated diversified rural tourism activities from the perspectives of economic viability and endogenous utilization of rural resources and investigated labour productivity. First, we presented a conceptual framework on how to evaluate economic viability and the endogenous mobilization of rural resources. Second, we empirically evaluated economic viability, the supply shift effect of endogenous utilization of rural resources and the labour productivities of rural tourism. The main findings are as follows. First, examination of the three main activities, i. e. accommodation, restaurants and direct selling of farm products, showed that both full-time and part time labour input contribute to better sales, which means that these activities are viable whereas other activities that provide farming experience services did not yet clearly show evidence of a viable farm business. Third, we could not confirm the supply shift effect of endogenous innovative rural resource use, Overall, it was evaluated that rural tourism in this county is under supplied at a social optimal level. In the long run, institutional conditions for market formation and management skills for endogenous innovation in utilization of rural resources should be more intensely developed as a part of rural resource management policy.
Agriculture, where appropriately managed, has enriched the life of its stakeholders in a variety of ways. The welfare generation is exemplified by two types of local agricultural movement: organic agriculture and seed conservation. The former has enabled the buyer of organic foods to enjoy a variety of safe, fresh produce picked at its prime, and let the community conserve the rural landscape. The latter has provided urbanites with the opportunity to appreciate the wealth of traditional foods, and farmers with a means of defying monopolistic suppliers. As illustrated in the schemes observed, food-mediated partnership can also act as a safeguard against life-threatening events, suggesting that their daily operation has contributed to the renaissance of strong ties within the community. It is high time that we acknowledged food-mediated partnership as a viable option for our economy as against global free trade, which is unlikely to help us survive in an increasingly uncertain future.