At the lively Sunday market in Kochi, people look for fresh fruits and vegetables for cooking for supper. And farmers sell their proud products like sweet tomatoes, juicy shaddocks, and so on, enjoying conversations with their customers with lots of smiles. One day, my friend from Okayama and I visited to see the Sunday market. She bought vegetables like a sweet tomato and lots of Kochi’s specialties.
“I’ve never had a tomato this sweet, a cucumber this fresh. wow. how come?” she said, surprised.
For Kochi people, fresh products are natural to eat. “We always grow them with lots of love, just like children!” answered a farmer. Kochi is also famous for agriculture besides drinking. According to another farmer, “the shaddock and the sweet tomato are found only in Kochi which is what makes Kochi’s cooking so delicious.”
Kochi is blessed with abundant resources and wonderful weather for agriculture.
Thanks to the sun and lots of rain, farmers mainly grow vegetables on open fields in Kochi. On the other hand, between the mountains, the climate conditions are cooler so that specific fruits, tea leaves, and cattle for beef are raised. The farmers in Kochi make the best use of the quality of weather for farming.
Kochi is placed in the southern part of Shikoku which has 84% of forest, mountains, and a clear ocean. Furthermore, it has the proper weather and climate for agriculture. Japanese ginger, eggplant, red pepper, garlic-onion, yuzu and gloriosa are products that make Kochi famous. These products which are made in Kochi are very well known all over Japan. Besides these products, cucumber, pepper, okura, melon, sweet tomato, lilly and shddock are also produced in Kochi.
The government mandated agricultural system in Kochi for the past 4 years has been Chisanchisyou, the local consumption of locally produced goods. A couple years ago, due to misleading labels, agricultural chemicals not approved by the government, a flu which entirely covered Kochi caused of knowledge about products in Kochi to intensify. The benefits of Chisanshisyou for the people of Kochi people are many. According to the official website about a word ‘Chisanchishyo’, “Inside Kochi prefecture, farmers can have many marketing routes and can sell small amount of different kinds of goods. This system helps elderly farmers to gain larger profits with very few cost waste. For consumers like patients and students school meals are provided everyday, and they can see who the producer is, which makes consumers feel at ease. They can also realize how tasty and fresh many kinds of local products are. Thanks to Chisanshisyou, you can get more information and connections easily and can get to know a farmer’s hardships and the process of manufacturing, which will make people think more about what they eat daily. Eventually, the attempt will bring farmers and consumers closer.
When it comes to agriculture in Kochi, there are good stories. However, there are bad situations for farmers as well. “My dream is to live in a country and farm for a living. I love nature,” a 20-year-old man said. Recently, “From 1994 to1999, there were 906 people in Kochi who wanted to be farmers however only 56 people actually became farmers” Youths crave a life in Kochi, and see only its benefits. When they find out it’s not what they thought and working here is harder than they think, they give up easily. Eventually the agricultural population will decrease. This is one of many bad situations in Kochi.
Compared to Tokyo, Kochi is definitely rural but what makes Kochi so special is nature which is spectacular. There is no other prefecture which is as naturally beautiful as Kochi. Nature gives farmers good places for farming and farmers give us fresh foods and people thank nature. We are all connected. Agriculture is one very important thing that should be preserved. To understand the feeling, you should go to the Sunday market to talk to farmers!! Through living in Kochi, you’ll see that for Kochi’s agriculture, what is important is the closeness between farmers and consumers.