Fukushima set to revive "ampo-gaki" brand of dried persimmons

Farmers in northern Fukushima Prefecture have begun to make "ampo-gaki" semi-dried persimmons, a regional specialty. At a farm in the Kamigori district of Koori town, Kunio Hirai and his wife Yumiko are busy producing the traditional fruit of the season together with employees. Ampo-gaki is made by smoking and half-drying the fruit. But farmers in the region had imposed a voluntary ban on processing work for three years until last year in the aftermath of the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Some of them continued decommissioning persimmon trees and measuring radiation levels of the fruit. A group comprising farmers and representatives of the municipalities concerned as well as central and prefectural government officials chose model areas for resuming ampo-gaki production last year. Such areas were expanded this year and the supply of testing equipment was increased in an effort to restore the specialty fruit. Favorable weather has helped persimmons grow larger than usual this season. "We face a crucial point this year," Hirai said. "We want consumers to enjoy the fruit as much as they can." The production process is getting into full swing in the early part of November. The fruit is subject to nondestructive radiation tests before being shipped across Japan. (Translated by Kyodo News)