Fukushima farm exports grow 50% to record 431 tons in FY 2021

Exports of agricultural products from Fukushima Prefecture in fiscal 2021 rose about 50% over the previous year to 431.6 tons, the largest amount since fiscal 2005 when such data began to be tallied, the local government announced on April 28. Prefectural officials attributed the growth mainly to increased rice shipments to Singapore and Hong Kong. The export total for the fiscal year through March 2022 was about three times the level immediately before the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant. Fukushima's farm exports have been on the rise since plummeting after the disaster. The fiscal 2021 total represented an increase of 146.8 tons from the previous year, already achieving the fiscal 2023 goal of 400 tons targeted by the local government's second prefectural product promotion strategy covering fiscal 2021-2023. Of the fiscal 2021 total, rice accounted for the largest portion at 397.8 tons, an all-time high exceeding the previous record of 237.0 tons in fiscal 2020. In Singapore and Hong Kong, where the status of coronavirus infections remained relatively calm, rice demand grew stronger from Japanese restaurants and other business consumers. On the other hand, exports of peaches, "nashi" pears and other fruits decreased as harvests declined due to damage from freezing weather, including frost. Given such brisk exports of prefectural rice, the local government is attempting to expand shipments to the United States, where import restrictions on Fukushima rice were removed last autumn, with plans to stage sales promotion campaigns there. (Translated by Kyodo News)