Lack of rain damages sugarcane and vegetables in Okinawa

Lack of rain damages sugarcane and vegetables in Okinawa

Sugarcane has turned brown because of the water shortage and salt pollution caused by Typhoon Soulik. On July 19 at Gusukubebora in Miyako.

July 20, 2013

The lack of rain in Okinawa has begun to damage crops such as sugarcane and leafy vegetables. Ongoing hot weather in other areas of Japan has seen the price of vegetables from outside Okinawa rise. The Okinawa Meteorological Observatory expects rainfall to continue to decline for some time yet and fears that damage may become more extensive.

According to the municipalities and the Japan Agricultural Cooperatives in Okinawa, there has been leaf rolling on sugarcane throughout the prefecture, but especially in the Miyako and Yaeyama areas that were hit by Typhoon Soulik. The water shortage has hurt the crops. Some municipalities have lent spray pumps to farmers and are considering starting irrigation work from next week.

Seventy-five-year-old Tatsuichi Taira who grows vegetables on about 5,000 square meters of fields in Toyohara, Itoman, said, “The well dried up because of the drought, so all the vegetables have died. There is nothing I can do about it.”
With rainfall expected to continue to decline, many municipalities fear that the extent of the damage will worsen. Miyako City, which suffered serious damage from salt pollution from the typhoon, held a meeting to deal with the drought and decided to offer irrigation for farming households.

Ishigaki Island suffered great damage after a storm without rain swept through its sugarcane fields. Ishigaki sugarcane farmer Toshiichi Yokome said, “Crop yields will drop. We have never seen damage like this before.” The Okinawa Meteorological Observatory said that the Pacific anticyclone will cover Okinawa area and that the weather will clear up from July 20 to 26. It expects less rainfall this year than usual. It will be clear most days in the first two weeks of the period from July 20 to August 19, with little rain expected.

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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