Every year at this time of the year, I feel depressed. It’s the time of year when aerial pesticide spraying for rice stink bug control takes place. After a few years of living in rural areas, I’ve seen one aspect of the dwindling number of farmers. They have to rely on aerial spraying to save labor. There are many elderly people who don’t want to use herbicides who can’t cope with the vigorous growth of weeds, so they are dependent on them.
Not only in the town where I live, but also in neighboring towns and villages, young people are leaving for the big cities, and those who are engaged in farming are mostly in their 70s or 80s. The number of abandoned fields is increasing year by year due to the lack of manpower, so fields are in disrepair. Satoyama (mountainous farm areas) are no longer maintained, and damage from monkeys, deer and wild boars is increasing.
Most urban residents think that they can get food at convenience stores and supermarkets anytime, but due to the effects of the new corona virus pandemic and climate change, the number of countries exporting food to Japan may decrease dramatically in the future. I really wonder what will happen to Japan then, as our food self-sufficiency rate is only 37%. Large cities with “dense” populations and rural areas that are exhausted by the outflow of population… I can only hope that the unbalanced distribution of human beings in this country will be restored through the pandemic.
By Matsuno Ryoko (August 6, 2020)