Farmers in Imaizumi district of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, are harvesting rice for the first time since the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which devastated the region.
In Imaizumi, 90 percent of households were swept away and 240 people died because of the tsunami. Agricultural producers’ cooperative corporation in Imaizumi, comprised of seven local farmers, worked to restore farmlands by removing disaster debris, and planted Hitomebore brand rice on a 3-heactare land in May.
The rice field does not drain well since the underground drains remain unrepaired, so the farmers are cutting rice crops by hand using sickles instead of by combine harvesters.
Tsuyoshi Kanno, 73-year-old head of the cooperative who was busy cutting rice plants, said he is very happy to feel the weight of richly-grown rice for the first time in three years.
Out of the harvested rice, some two tons will be used to make sake at a local brewer Suisen Shuzo. The company plans to start brewing in the end of January next year and new sake is expected to be ready in March.
“We could harvest rice thanks to everyone who supported our restoration efforts,” Kanno said. “We hope to cultivate more rice next year.”
(Oct. 10, 2013)