Corona and tangerines, secure 20,000 mogi hands August 14, 19:41

You can eat delicious "tangerines" because there are farmers who use sweat and spend time to grow fruits. However, it cannot be eaten by itself. You can't reach the table without someone to harvest the grown fruits. It is a story of a citrus kingdom desperate to secure a total of 20,000 mogi hands under the influence of the new coronavirus.
(Shoko Tashiro, Reporter, Matsuyama Broadcasting Station, Rie Oishi, Ken Memita, Reporter, Network News Department)

Trouble of citrus kingdom

The citrus kingdom is Ehime prefecture. "Iyokan" "Red Mando" "Amanpei" "Setoka" "Harehime" "Shiranui" This is the name of citrus cultivated in Ehime prefecture, and the number is more than 40.

The total yield of citrus fruits has been the highest in Japan for 44 consecutive years since 1974, when national statistics can be confirmed until the latest 2017 statistics.

Of the various varieties, the one with the highest yield in Ehime prefecture is the “Wenzhou mandarin orange”, which is easy to pick by hand and has a strong sweetness. It is an orange often seen in supermarkets. However, securing new people to harvest Ehime's Wenzhou mandarin oranges is becoming a problem for the new coronavirus countermeasures.

Supporting a total of 20,000 people from Hokkaido to Okinawa

To explain the Unshu mandarin oranges in a little detail, the peak harvest season is from November to December every year. The harvest will be a short-term decisive battle because the taste will drop after this season.

Since the fields are often well-drained and on steep slopes where the sun is even, the harvest cannot be mechanized, and people have to rely on human hands. You have to harvest it manually for a limited period of time.

For this reason, local farmers were not enough, and part-time workers from all over the country gathered at citrus farmers in Ehime to harvest delicious oranges in order to deliver them. The number is said to reach 20,000 people in one season from Hokkaido to Okinawa.

Change with corona

According to the Nishi-Uwa Agricultural Cooperative, which produces 40,000 tons of Wenzhou mandarin oranges per year, the harvesting part-time workers work while staying at farmers' homes or staying in communal accommodations. Some of them are responsible for harvesting for 40 to 50 days, and there are also “repeaters” who work at the same farm every year.

Wenshu mandarin oranges in Ehime, which have been supported by the power of many people from outside the prefecture. But the new coronavirus changed the situation.

Digging up the prefecture

Because of concern over the spread of infection, both the people who come to harvest and the people who accept it are cautious about moving people across the prefecture. As a result of repeated examinations at the agricultural cooperatives, it was thought that it would be difficult to accept people from outside the prefecture as usual.

It is the local human resources in Ehime Prefecture who are in the process of digging up instead.

“Farmers of different crops during the off season in November and December”
“Workers in other industries”

We call on those people for cooperation, and we ask public servants who have difficulty working concurrently to come as volunteers on weekends alone.

I want you to come anyway

Even after accepting it, if accommodation is required, large rooms are prohibited to prevent infection. "In principle, it is a single room", and the accepting party prepares a vacant room in the hotel or condominium. It seems that there are some farmers who renovate their homes and prepare private rooms.

Fumio Kikuchi, Director, Agricultural Promotion Department, Nishi Uwa Agricultural Cooperative
"I can't read what the corona infection is like in the fall at all. I want to get it.''

The prefecture also recorded a surplus of 93 million yen in the supplementary budget for August as "Securing mikan arubita". It is supposed to subsidize accommodation expenses for part-time workers and to help prevent infections at the vineyards where people gather.

If you are from outside the prefecture

There are also voices saying, "I can't do without people outside the prefecture." It is Mr. Kashio Yano who has been cultivating mandarin oranges in Wenzhou for nearly 50 years in Yawatahama City, Ehime Prefecture.

Mr. Yano, who is 80 years old, has a heavy physical burden, and it is impossible for Mr. Yano's family alone to harvest a mandarin orange with 1 hectare of farmland. For this reason, I have been hiring part-time workers from outside the prefecture through the agricultural cooperative every year for about 20 years.

However, due to the influence of the new coronavirus, since the agricultural cooperative will not be recruiting from outside the prefecture, I will personally contact the people of Kyushu and Kanto who had been working part-time until now to get the harvest. Did.

We interviewed a local Nishiwa Agricultural Cooperative, and we do not prohibit hiring people from outside the prefecture. However, in that case, if you come to Ehime Prefecture, you will first be waiting at the accommodation facility to have a PCR test. It seems that he is thinking of leaving the facility and working on it only after a negative result is confirmed. Although the cost of accommodation will be borne by the farmers, it is said that subsidies from local governments are also being considered.

A few more months

Mandarin oranges made with great effort cannot be delivered without securing a grip. Farmers and cooperatives are desperate for the harvest season, which is just a few months away.

There are also movements to operate a dedicated bus for picking up part-time jobs in the prefecture to the fields, and agricultural cooperatives will also talk to tourists and local students affected by the new coronavirus in the future. I have an idea.

A new type of coronavirus that affects the harvest of fruits. The citrus kingdom continues to struggle to survive the limited harvest season.