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» Toward the restoration of food and agriculture in Fukushima

In Nov 30th 2012, “the symposium on the restoration of food and agriculture in Fukushima” was held by Fukushima Future Center for Regional Revitalization (FURE) and Fukushima University. At this symposium, the practical actions taken by the different sectors are reported such as by the prefectural government office, Fukushima University, the public research center, the municipal government, and the farmers’ associations.

The content of symposium was divided into three sections. At the first section, the action toward the realization of the establishment of systematic survey method for the agricultural products in Fukushima was reported. The agriculture division of Fukushima prefectural government shared the practices on the all baggage research on the newly harvested rice in 2012. The safety standard for the food was decreased from 500 Becquerel to 100 Becquerel from April 2012, and the prefectural government was seriously concerned about the research system. One of the reasons which made them more serious is because they detected the rice which went over the safety standard after the safety declaration was publicized by Fukushima prefecture. This mistake damaged the trust from the consumers badly. In order to prevent this kind of situation in 2012, the prefectural government installed 198 rice survey machines in 50 cities and townships which are newly developed specifically for this check-up. The result of the rice survey surprised the people, because almost more than 90 % the level of Cesium contained the newly harvested rice was below the safety standard. The prefectural government mentioned that the all baggage rice check-up was able to restore the trust from the consumers. However, the another panelist mentioned that in order to implement the survey, the farmers, most of them are over 60 years old, had to suffer from the extra burdens and we should not never take their efforts lightly.

At the second session, the technical agricultural methods to drop the radiation levels were reported. According to the general agricultural center in Fukushima prefecture, one of the effective methods is to plow the soil deeply and change the up and bottom soils. Spraying the agricultural materials such as potassium and zeolite was found the function of preventing crops from absorbing Cesium. Tenei village, which was very famous for producing the delicious rice, shared their experience of the approach for reducing the damage from radiation. Tenei village requested all farmers to use three agricultural materials, potassium, zeolite and prussian blue and succeeded to produce the rice whose radiation level is below the safety level in both 2011 and 2012. Though they have a lot of difficulties, they did not change the price of the rice, which is 1000 yen per kg as the local brand, and they were still able to sell the rice.

In the third session, the practical reports were made by organic farmers groups. They mentioned that they more strongly realized the importance of the relationships with others after the disaster. Currently they are working with the different sectors and seeking the possible ways to continue organic farming in Fukushima. Those consumers which used purchased organic crops from Fukushima are health conscious people and they stopped buying from them immediately after the disaster. In this difficult situation, some organic farmers did not give up cultivating the land and started to check the contamination of the soil and vegetables with the cooperation of NGOs, universities and donors. They also succeeded to produce the crops below the safety standard and some consumer groups started to help marketing the organic products in Tokyo area. However, the health effects of radiation to the farmers’ body were not deeply concerned as much as the safety level of the organic products. This is the matter which needs to study farther for the future. The farmers group in Towa village initiated the check up the internal exposure of the organic farmers by using Whole Body Counters, which is not only for themselves, but for their next generations to leave the health date for the further study.

These different approaches were shared during the symposium and we were able to learn the way of recovering the agricultural industry in Fukushima. Dr. Koyama, associate professor in Fukushima University mentioned the importance of the integration of the survey system. The survey is important methods, but it needs to develop the inclusive strategy of how to utilize the result of the survey for the agricultural production and the marketing. The cooperation between the different sectors involved in the agricultural industry in Fukushima will be more inevitable for the restoration of agriculture.

Reported by Yuko Endo (JANIC)

Mr. Koyama Symposium 1 Mr. Koyama symposium 2


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