My Father



What We Face in the Islands A Word from Our Ancestors

Youichi Toshinari

He was born and brought up in Nakajima as the oldest son of an orange farm house. For his love for his hometown, Nakajima, and decided to be a farmer here when he graduated his high school. But before he jumps in the work, he made up his mind to attend a program to go to the U.S. and learn about agriculture more. In 1975, he flew to the U.S., and worked and studied as an agricultural trainee in Arizona. He attended a course for citrus farming at Caly Poly Pomona University in California. In 1977, he came back to Japan with the knowledge and experience of farming. Then he started his operation for orange farming.

In 1991, 14 years later after his return from the States, Nakajima Town suffered from an enormous typhoon, a severe tropical hurricane occurring in the western Pacific or the China Sea, and it left the damage of 1499 acres for farming area and 73.8 billion yen of loss for orange growers.

It was a turning point for everyone who related to the industry. Some of my friends' fathers had to give up farming and move to cities. And still, the disaster is causing the decrease of population in our town every year.

Everybody needed to change their paths in their lives because of the incident, and our family was not an exception.

"It wasn't the rain destroyed my orchards, but the incredible wind that blew up the sea water to the orchards," my father said. His orchards were more than 500 meters away form the seaside. But the strong wind with the sea water destroyed about the half of his operation. "It took only 2 hours to destroy my orchards I dedicated my 14 years of time and hard work." He was disappointed, but he had a family to keep. And he started his challenge by looking at the incident as a chance to change.

"I started to think how I used my money and time for spraying insecticides, herbicides,and chemical fertilizers only to make oranges look good. And after the typhoon, losing about the half of my operation, I realized they are useless if you lose your health by using them," he told me.

He decided to be out of the Agricultural Cooperative Society in Nakajima, and he became an independent farmer for organic farming, who is responsible not only for growing, but for marketing by himself. Under the membership of the Cooperative Society, you don't have to worry about marketing. That is their job to do. They do allow you to use all the facilities for sorting, packing, and shipping too. And being independent from the Cooperative Society, you must be tough in a small town, like Nakajima. But he did it anyway.

After 8 years from the typhoon, his orchards are recovered and his challenge is still ongoing. On March 19 of 1998, he was invited to a workshop on Agroecology which held at Experiment Farm, Ehime University to represent his work in front of many important speakers from the U.S. And he spoke on "Liberalization of Satsuma Mandarin Oranges and Future of Citrus Agriculture".

As a daughter of his, it is hard to say for me that I wasn't quite sure how difficult it was for him when the typhoon hit this area. And now, with this CyberFair 98 project, I fully understand why he decide to stay in Nakajima, and what he does for our family. And I do respect my father and his challenge.



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