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Lack of rain spells trouble to Daito sugar farmers

Date Posted: 2003-07-18

The long spell of rainless days is destroying the sugar cane which serve as the Daito Islands’ primary cash crop. According to Daito Farmers’ Cooperative, it is difficult enough even on normal years to grow sugar cane on Daito, which suffers not only from regular dry spells but also from more frequent typhoons than the rest of Okinawa. Local farmers try to combat the drought by watering their fields from mobile tanks, but that is often not enough.

“We need everyone’s help,” says Tsutomu Gima, the chairman of Daito Farmers’ Cooperative. “We really need rain. We wish we could get more financial support from JA, village and prefecture so we could build a more effective watering system so we wouldn’t have the same problem every year,” Gima said.

He may not have much to hope for. Okinawa Meteorological Agency says that the dry weather is likely to continue through the rest of the month, and there is not even a typhoon in sight.

Okinawa’s main island is also beginning to feel the effects of the long dry spell. According to prefecture officials, the water level in the dams is currently at 80.8 percent of capacity but the level is going down fast. “If we do not get a good typhoon soon, everybody should start preparing for water rationing,” an official at the prefecture General Bureau said.

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