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2011年7月17日 (日)

社説:農業コンクール 再生への芽を育てよう

(Mainichi Japan) July 16, 2011
Annual farmers' competition loaded with inspiration for crisis-stricken Japan agriculture
社説:農業コンクール 再生への芽を育てよう

The 60th national agricultural competition, held recently in Wakayama under the slogan, "Support Japanese agriculture," has given a glimmer of hope to Japanese farmers hit hard by the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and ensuing nuclear crisis.
 「応援しよう! 日本の農業」をスローガンに和歌山市で開かれた全国農業コンクール(毎日新聞社、和歌山県主催)の第60回全国大会は、未曽有の大災厄に沈む日本農業に希望のともしびを示すものになった。

The competition, organized jointly by the Mainichi Newspapers Co. and the Wakayama Prefectural Government, began in 1952 when Japan was recovering from the devastation of World War II. The latest one was held as Japan is trying to restore disaster-hit areas and victims' livelihoods.

The Great East Japan Earthquake inflicted a vicious blow on Japanese agriculture.

A total of 23,600 hectares of farmland in six prefectures -- Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Chiba -- was badly damaged by the disaster.

Many farmers in disaster-hit areas have been forced to give up farming this year because their soil is full of salt brought by the tsunami and local agricultural waterworks have been destroyed.

Numerous farmers near the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant have been banned from farming or shipping their products because their land has been contaminated with radioactive substances leaking from the crippled plant.

Furthermore, groundless rumors that agricultural products from areas hit by the nuclear crisis are contaminated with radioactive substances have spread far and wide, and some countries are restricting imports of agricultural products from Japan.

The presentations at the competition by 21 farmers selected from all over Japan have encouraged farmers in the disaster-hit areas in various ways.

Yasuo Kaeriyama and his wife Sachiko, farmers from Ono, Fukui Prefecture, who won the grand prix, are mainly growing rice and soybeans on their 70-hectare farm.

The couple expanded their production not by pursuing operational efficiency and squeezing more out of their land, but by taking over farmland abandoned by the original owners chased away by unfavorable conditions.

They grow blue soybeans, known for their sweetness and deep taste, process them into tofu which they then put on the market, thereby combining farming (primary industry), processing (secondary industry) and marketing (tertiary industry).

They have also actively promoted local production for local consumption, and support a group of local women processing locally grown agricultural products.

The couple has also contributed greatly to the regional community.

Some presenters employed cutting-edge technology. Yozo Kurita, from Bungoono, Oita Prefecture, uses software he has developed to automate hydroponic farming of honewort.

All of them have taken root in their respective regional communities and are enthusiastic about training younger farmers.

Moreover, a couple from Yatsushiro, Kumamoto Prefecture, who took advantage of their farmland reclaimed from the sea to grow high-quality tomatoes, won a special prize because their farming method is highly suggestive to farmers in tsunami-ravaged areas.

The 21 presenters have demonstrated their excellent technology and management skills.

But they should rather be praised for the strenuous efforts and ingenuity that led to their success, their contributions to the regional community and their enthusiasm for developing younger farmers.

They are models for not only farmers in disaster-hit areas but all farmers across the country.

The quake, tsunami and nuclear crisis must not cause Japanese farming to decline.

Rather, we hope that Japanese farmers will take the disaster as an opportunity to reform and improve their industry.

毎日新聞 2011年7月16日 2時30分


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