Bureau of Agriculture

Image: Image from the book Facts for Farmers, 1865. Source: NCSU Libraries.

On April 30, 1872, the delegation received a tour of the Bureau of Agriculture, beginning with the Entomology Department and the agricultural museum. The group was interested in investigating the ways that farmers in America protected their fields from harmful pests. Farmers in Japan used a method of flooding their rice fields to protect from weeds and bugs. The delegates learned that, in contrast, American farmers relied on eagles and swallows to serve as natural predators for harmful insects. For the most invasive insects, the Bureau actively researched more advanced methods of field protection.

Kunitake Kume noted that America’s greatest profits must be derived from its vast agricultural industry. While still early in their visit, the delegation had already journeyed through America’s heartland of sprawling farmland, and seen the expanse of the country used for agriculture. Kume compared this to what he knew of Japan’s efficient, although modest-sized paddies and fields, and mused that America alone might someday be able to feed the entire world.


Kume, Kunitake. “THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.” Japan Rising: The Iwakura Embassy to the USA and Europe, edited by Chushichi Tsuzuki and R. Jules Young, 69. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511721144.