TOYODAMICHIKO.JP

The return of food production from overseas to home grown as well as maintaining and redeveloping mountainous areas

On the sunny side
Rural management by the disabled

 I created this English web because I had researched abroad and could not find disabled people working in rural areas, so I wanted to see if people abroad could find my English web.

What is rural management?

Maintain and manage mountainous areas in all possible ways

中山間地のイラスト Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Web site(https://www.maff.go.jp/j/nousin/tyusan/siharai_seido/s_about/cyusan/)

 Rural areas in this context are defined as mid-mountainous areas. In other words, rural management in this context is defined as mid-mountainous area management. Please see the illustration to see what kind of places are referred to as mid-mountainous areas.  Agriculture in mountainous areas accounts for about 40% of the nation's arable land area and 40% of the total number of farmers. However, the number of inhabitants living there is declining. Rural management has an important role in maintaining, managing and redeveloping mountainous areas where, for example, 80% of the houses are vacant.

List of achievements

Collaborative coordination with Workplaces for the disabled

 Our goal is to help disabled people lead an independent life, and to train disabled people in food production, agriculture, and maintenance of rural areas to achieve this purpose, as well as to take care of disabled people.
 This section describes the coordination of Training of Persons with Disabilities in Food, Agriculture and Rural Areas.
 I am mainly in charge of theoretical explanation, basically the communications manager I coordinate between the management and the people working on the ground at the workplace.

 At the Workplace, they start at 8:30 am with a morning assembly. Everybody lines up, a military style drill is done to start the assembly, something like “stand straight” is shouted. Everyone says good morning.

 They do their morning work (with a ten to 15 minute break at 10:30 depending on the weather and work conditions), they eat their lunch at 12:00 for 1 hour, at 13:00 they do their afternoon work (with a break of 10 to 15 minutes at around 15:00 depending on weather and work conditions), and end with an evening assembly at 4pm because of government regulations of a maximum of 6 working hours. Evening assembly happens at 15:00 everybody lines up, a military style drill is done to finish the assembly, something like “stand straight” is shouted. Everyone says thank you for working hard.
 The important thing is to work following instructions. The non disabled staff give instructions and the disabled people say, “yes I understand” and continue to work. This is a clear training system that helps disabled people understand their role in the workplace and what to do and how to behave to be productive. If they are able to work well they will graduate after working and training at Carman for an average of two years, they will continue to get paid while in training.

 Their work includes the following:- Cherry blossoms, shiitake mushroom cultivated in natural log wood, weeding services such as weeding at facilities on behalf of the government; infrastructure development: management of roads, ume (Japanese plum), sudachi (Japanese lime), sansho (Japanese leaf and fruit), miscellaneous work (mulch removal. The details of their work is explained with images, videos (aerial photography) and words below, some of them do not have images.

 Chatter during work is discouraged. You can only have instructions by staff and replies such as "Yes, I understand".

 These instructions and replies, which can be said to be the concept of the workplace, can be seen in the video.

Managing terraced rice paddies: Cherry blossoms

サクラの苗木を植えている画像

 This is a new project that started in 2021 where they cultivate and ship edible cherry leaves to many confectionery stores and jin distilleries.The image shows cherry saplings being planted in terraced rice paddies that are being converted from producing rice to producing cherry leaves for consumption. Four bamboo stakes are inserted around each cherry sapling so as not to accidentally cut the cherry tree when weeding with a brush cutter. They are organically produced because the soil is ideal for growing cherry trees and there is often a strong wind blowing which reduces.

 Then, the leaves were harvested and shipped after they had grown to such a large size. Home-grown cherry leaves are in great demand.

サクラの葉を収穫している画像 サクラの葉を収穫している画像

Brush cutting and road clearing

 Disabled people are engaged in two types of brush cutting.
 One type is brush cutting contracted by the government, called (“Ekimu” in Japanese). There are various scales of brush cutting, ranging from large to small areas.
 The other type is called "Road clearing", which is for the mutual benefit of agriculture and rural areas. The work carried out is brush cutting the grass and weeds near the roadsides and cleaning up the fallen leaves.
 As of the end of 2020, there are six disabled people (users) at Workplace who have been trained and certified to work with a brush cutter. The more experience they have, the faster they become at brush cutting. Approximately 4 hectares of land is cleared and strimmed per year.

Shiitake mushrooms cultivated in natural

 Disabled people are engaged in many steps of the shiitake mushroom cultivation process, such as cutting down 1 metre lengths of sawtooth oak, drilling the holes for planting fungi, laying the bed logs down to grow shiitake mushrooms, harvesting, and drying, entrusted by a farmer. There are many boxes of mushrooms harvested every year. The yearly harvest amounts to 30 tons per year.

 A special type of JGAP certification is given to our workplace in which a disabled workplace is responsible for many of the processes.This certification is assessed by Japan Gap Foundation, which certifies farmers to a high quality standard.
Here is their website https://jgap.jp
 GAP stands for Good, Agricultural, and Practice, with the J stands for Japan GAP, there are other types of GAP such as G GAP (Global Good Agricultural Practices).
 Old kunugi (quercus acutissima) (sawtooth oak) trees are laid out horizontally on a flat surface of the mountain then are covered with cedar leaves to compost them and make hummus. In addition, we plant sawtooth kunugi saplings to ensure the long-term sustainability of the natural cycle where kunugi trees grow and return to the ground.

Harvesting plums (nankoubai), sudachi (Japanese lime), and sansho (Japanese pepper)

 At the workplace we harvest plums, sudachi, and sansho for farmers who planted those leaves and fruit.
 Plums are left to grow on the tree until they are fully ripe, according to the techniques of the farmers who grow them, and then they are scooped up from a blue net after they fall naturally onto the net to catch them.
 Sudachies are harvested in two stages because sudachi trees have spines. The first step is to cut the branches 10cm long with fruit and spins. The second step is to cut off the branches from the fruit, this is usually done in the shed. This process is usually done by disabled people so that they can harvest the fruit without getting harmed by the spines.
 Concerning sansho, the fruit is harvested, its leaves are removed, and the fruit is packed. Then, the fruit is sold to Japan Agriculture by sansho farmers. JA sells the Sansyo fruit to supermarkets and other outlets throughout Japan.
 Below are images and videos of Plums, Sudachi, and Sansho, which show the harvest process.

梅の収穫方法 梅の収穫方法 梅の収穫方法 梅の収穫方法 スダチの収穫方法
山椒の収穫方法 山椒の収穫方法

Miscellaneous Tasks (Another Tasks: the Removal of plastic sheeting for planting)

 The following is an introduction to another task: plastic sheeting removal.
 Plastic sheeting is used in the production of many crops, fruit and vegetables such as sweet potatoes, cucumber, tomatoes, watermelon, green peppers and strawberries. During the growing season weeds and grasses grow very quickly in Japan so there needs to be a plastic sheet to prevent these weeds from smothering the crops. The sheeting also helps keep the soil warm for spring and autumn crops.
 Removing plastic sheeting from the ground is very tough for farmers to pick up by themselves. By having many people working at once, the task can be completed with speed and efficiency which would be difficult for farms with low staff members.

マルチ剥がしの様子 マルチ剥がしの様子
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