For the first time since the March 2011 nuclear accident in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, farmers in the Miyakojimachi district of Tamura have begun planting rice in what was once a no-go zone. It’s also the first time that any kind of farming has been tried out in any former hot zone that’s within 20 km of the now inactive plant. Miyakojimachi is the only district that has completed decontamination according to the Fukushima prefecture.
Three farms are planning to seed 6 hectares in the area, with the rice intended for sale. The rice paddies have already been cleaned up from any radioactive fallout from the plant and the farmers are using fertilizers with potassium to help reduce the cesium that will be absorbed by the rice plants. The rice will also undergo thorough radiation checks before they are shipped off for selling. One of the farmers, 62 year old Hisao Tsuboi, said that he plans to plant Hitomebore plus two more rice varieties in his 2.5 hectare farm. However, he is worried about whether the farm will survive or whether he can continue working on it, since residents are still not allowed to stay overnight in the area. He has to leave his temporary house at 4AM to go to the paddies then return late at night, and travel time takes an hour one way.
An official at the Fukushima Prefectural Government said that controlling the water in the farms is crucial to growing rice and if the farmers do not live there, it’s going to be quite difficult. They might start reconsidering allowing farmers to stay overnight at least some days of the week in order to ensure the survival of the rice fields.
[ via Yomiuri ]