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Rice planted in Fukushima town as farming trials begin

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17 May 2019
Rice has been planted in a Japanese town which hosts Fukushima’s damaged nuclear power plant eight years after residents were first evacuated.
Officials and locals in Okuma town planted several crops, including sticky rice and premium quality rice, across more than 17,000 square feet of paddy fields.
The rice planting is the latest sign of life slowly starting to return to Okuma, one of a string of so-called “ghost towns” that were immediately evacuated due to soaring radiation levels after the 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.
Evacuation orders for Okuma – which along with Futaba town, co-hosts nearby Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant – were lifted last month, while its municipal government building also reopened earlier this week.
New public housing for former residents displaced by the disaster is also expected to open next month, while an agricultural manual is being prepared  to encourage people to start growing crops again.
Government officials in Okuma have been monitoring radiation contamination in produce while conducting small-scale farming trials for several years, with test results reportedly showing levels below the national safety standards for food.
 
Fukushima was once famed for its high quality food produce, from peaches and grapes to rice and fish, with the region’s producers hit hard by the 2011 nuclear disaster.
Over the past eight years, the Japanese government has taken numerous steps to attempt to reassure the world that food from Fukushima is safe to eat following a regional clean-up, with rigorous radiation testing in place for all produce.
More than 50 countries introduced import restrictions in the immediate aftermath of the meltdown at the nuclear power plant, with 23 still keeping food limitations from Fukushima in place.
Last month, the Japanese government criticised a World Trade Organisation ruling that supported a continued South Korean ban on imports of a number of Japanese fishery products.
Meanwhile, locals who are slowly starting to return to the region as evacuation orders are lifted are apparently turning to increasingly inventive ways to rebuild local farming businesses.
 
One group of farmers in Hirata village, just under 28 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, who were also hit hard by the disaster, have garnered widespread attention in Japan for their unusually-flavoured habanero soft ice cream, made from locally grown chilli peppers.
Government officials are also pinning hopes on the 2020 Olympics giving local revitalisation efforts a high-profile boost, with a number of baseball and soccer games scheduled to take place in the region.
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May 27, 2019 - Posted by | fukushima 2019 | ,

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