Rice acreage in nuclear disaster-hit areas seen growing 10% in 2017

The total area of rice cultivation in 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation zones were set up following the 2011 nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant is expected to reach 4,130 hectares this year, showing an increase of 358 hectares or 10% from 2016, according to a survey by Fukushima-Minpo Press Co., publisher of the namesake vernacular daily. The planned acreage in the 12 cities, towns and villages represents slightly less than 40% of all paddy fields in these areas, totaling some 10,900 hectares where rice planting and distribution have become possible. On the other hand, many farmers remain hesitant to resume farming or expand its size although they are eager to do so. The central and prefectural governments are called upon to offer them greater and improved support. According to the survey based on hearings from officials in the municipalities concerned, rice acreage is expected to increase this year in seven -- Minamisoma city, the towns of Kawamata, Naraha, Tomioka and Namie, and the villages of Katsurao and Iitate. (Translated by Kyodo News)