Farmers in Fukushima Prefecture have harvested tobacco leaf for the first time since tobacco cultivation was temporarily stopped because of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and are making preparations to ship the product around December. This year, leaf tobacco farmers enthusiastic about recovering the product took regulations for to reduce the effects of radioactive substances. At present, the farmers are awaiting the results of radiation tests on harvested tobacco leaves, and are pinning their hopes on making shipments this year.
In Fukushima Prefecture, tobacco farmers grow two kinds of leaf, a native species and berley leaves.
In financial 2010, approximately 1,770 tons of tobacco leaves with recorded sales of almost 3.24 billion yen were harvested in the area, the eighth largest in the nation.
Because of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Japan Tobacco Inc. soliciting tobacco farmers ready to quit leaf tobacco harvesting, the number of farmers in the prefecture decreased from 1,167 in 2011 to 675. Total farmland also fell from almost 900 hectares to about 620 hectares.
“We’ve got high quality tobacco leaves this year,” Naoya Ohashi concluded after he finished harvesting his 130-hectare farm in Tamura in the prefecture. In April last year, he consumed of approximately 30,000 tobacco seedlings after the prefecture’s tobacco producers union requested farmers halt planting due to fears of soil contamination.