ACPFG Blog

Swamped with saltwater: what a tsunami does to rice farmers

April 16, 2012

Filed under: Opinion — Tags: , — acpfg @ 4:07 pm

By Dr Darren Plett

Japan’s tsunami of March 11 2011 brought a wall of water laden with debris up to 5 kilometres inland from the sea. After the surge receded, the surrounding farming area was left covered in debris and a thick, black sludge. This sludge was extremely saline due to the sodium chloride from seawater.

Rice is the largest agricultural crop in Japan and the five prefectures affected by the 2011 tsunami are among the top producers of rice in Japan. Fortunately, less than 1.5% of Japan’s entire rice producing region was covered by the tsunami. Preliminary rice production statistics from the 2011 growing season show total rice production in Japan has hardly changed from 2010.

This all sounds fine on a national scale, but how did the tsunami affect the subsistence farmers in the tsunami-affected region? Reports indicate the 2011 rice production was severely decreased by salinity stress in the tsunami-affected region. This seriously affected the livelihood of these farmers.

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The carpet of sludge and debris left by 2011’s tsunami wreaked havoc on paddyfields. AAP

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