Civil Society

May 13, 2018


Transitioning to Farming that does not Harm the Environment

Keywords: Disaster Reconstruction 

Copyright Yagyuu farm All Rights Reserved.

Tohoku Fukko Nikki (Tohoku Reconstruction Diary), a weekly feature in the Tokyo Shimbun newspaper, delivers news stories on reconstruction efforts in communities devastated by the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. The articles are written by the JKSK Yui-Yui Project, an initiative to support survivors of the 2011 disaster. This time, we present below an article contributed by a farmer who is making efforts to pass on a safe environment to the next generation.

I live with my wife and her mother in Kami-Yagyu, Yotsukura-machi, Iwaki City, Fukushima Prefecture. Eight years ago, I retired from my job at the mandatory retirement age of sixty, and started farming. Now, I grow cotton, vegetables and fruits on 1.5 hectares of farmland.

It was my second year of farming when the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami happened. My farmland was located in a hilly and mountainous area eight kilometers away from the coast, and was not damaged by the Tsunami. However, the radioactive contamination from the nuclear accident severely affected my land. Farmers became frightened and anxious about their livelihood and health, because of the invisible radiation. Amid a continuous stream of confusing information, an increasing number of farmers abandoned farming and left their land fallow.

I was so pained to see farmland being abandoned that I started farming again, while undergoing radiation testing in accordance with administrative guidance. While doing so, I realized that the environment is irreplaceable, and a safe environment is the most important factor for happy lives. Consequently, I have transitioned to farming that does not pollute the environment, and my goal for the rest of my life is to pass on a safe environment to the next generation.

I joined the Fukushima Organic Cotton Project in 2014, which is a project that started in 2012 to restore Fukushima agriculture, which was suffering from harmful rumors. The project focuses on cultivating cotton, which is resilient against salt damage and has an extremely low radiation absorption rate.

Since then, over 2000 university students and business persons have visited my farmland. There, they spend time together cultivating organic cotton and vegetables. To strengthen a connection with the community, I have the local kindergartners and elementary students visit my farmland to experience farming and learn about organic farming.

People inside and outside the city established a farming group last year. Its members enjoy farming and nature together, and workshops on organic farming without use of agricultural pesticides and chemical fertilizers. By building relationships between farming villages and urban areas, this has become a place to experience a way of life that supports others. I tell visitors about our safe products grown on healthy farmlands, and the importance of organic cultivation and an unpolluted environment.

Hiroshi Fukushima
Yagyuu farm owner