Fukushima’s specialty “ampo-gaki” persimmons in production at new facility

Farmers have begun producing "ampo-gaki" half-dried persimmons, a specialty in the northern part of Fukushima Prefecture, at a new facility in the Yanagawa district of Date city. At the “Ampo Kobo Mirai” workshop completed in June, production based on advanced technology is under way. The facility, built by the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives (JA) group’s local chapter, JA Fukushima Mirai, has most stages of the production process automated, ranging from peeling, drying, selection, packaging and packing. At the workshop, cooperative staffers daily hang two brands of persimmons, “Hiratanenashi” and “Hachiya,” from atop customized carriages after allowing them to ripen for about 10 days and move them into a dry warehouse. Persimmons have grown well this season thanks to favorable weather in summer, according to Takeshi Haga, 35-year-old director of the facility. With the winter cold getting severe at a time when the drying process is in progress, more delicious ampo-gaki than usual is likely to be produced, he said. A voluntary ban on processing the fruit had been in place following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi plant. But it became possible to process and ship ampo-gaki after a group of farmers and other parties promoting production of the fruit designated the Date region in fiscal 2015 as a model area for resuming processing work. Ampo-gaki will be shipped across the country after its safety is confirmed through non-destructive testing for the detection of radioactive substances. (Translated by Kyodo News)