棚田の保全 [in Japanese] Sustainability of Rice Terraces [in Japanese]
Access this Article
Search this Article
Paddy fields made on slopes in the form of a series of shelves are called "rice terraces", or "tanada" in Japanese. These rice terraces are distributed over the whole country except Tokyo, Saitama and Okinawa, and they are particularly concentrated in the Kubiki Hills of Niigata Prefecture, on the Kibi Plateau in Okayama Prefecture and at the foot of the Aso-Kuju Volcanoes in Oita Prefecture. However, farming on these rice terraces has low labor productivity, and with advancement in the age of the farmers in the mountainous areas, it has become difficult for them to continue farming on the rice terraces, and the abandonment of them is now noticeable.<BR>Recently, however, the rice terraces have come to be viewed in a different light in their ability to control soil erosion and floods, along with the beautiful landscape which gives amenity and nostalgia to the people. For this report, three settlements endeavoring to sustain the rice terraces-namely, Shirayone, Wazima City in Ishikawa Prefecture, Maruyama, Kiwa-cho in Mie Prefecture, and Ohaka, Chuo-cho in Okayama Prefecture-are selected as the study areas.<BR>In Shirayone, Wazima City, the rice terraces are located along the tourist route. Thus, with support from the tourist industry, other economic organizations and the cultivation subsidies from the local government, the rice terraces has long been preserved. In Maruyama, Kiwa-cho, the local government has promulgated the regulations for the sustenance of the rice terraces on the one hand and has employed the farmers to restore the devastated rice terraces on the other hand together with their maintenance and management. In Ohaka, Chuo-cho, the size of operational holdings is relatively large and the agricultural co-operative association is encouraging the farmers towards sustenance of the rice terraces through organic farming and by farming without agricultural chemicals, thus adding value to the rice produced.<BR>Now, comparing the measures developed in these three settlements for the sustenance of rice terraces with one another, the following has been found.<BR>(1) In the case of a farm household of a small size of operational holdings, it has become difficult to maintain farming the rice terraces unless support of urban inhabitants is given or the government grants income compensation directly to the farm households.<BR>(2) In the case of a relatively large size of operational holdings, it is necessary for the sustaining of the rice terraces to increase the value added to the rice produced commensurate with the labor force invested, and one of such ways is the organic farming of paddy rice without agricultural chemicals.<BR>(3) As aged farmers retire from farming the rice terraces, the difficulty in securing people who will engage in farming will become a big problem in promoting the sustainability of the rice terraces.<BR>To solve this problem, it will be necessary to seriously face the problem of securing the labor force by recruiting farmers from among retired people living on pensions, weekend farmers and voluntary urban inhabitants.
- J. Geogr.
J. Geogr. 105(5), 547-568, 1996-10-25
Tokyo Geographical Society