OSAKA – A plan to create a new industry by reviving cotton cultivation is under way in Hannan in Osaka that was inspired by a project in Tohoku to remove salt from fields ruined by the tsunami of March 2011.
Cotton is highly salt-tolerant and can be grown in fields saturated by it because it wicks salt from the soil. The Tohoku Cotton Project took advantage of this feature by growing cotton and turning it into yarn for sale at apparel shops and other firms.
The project caught the eye of Hannan officials as cotton was grown on 40 to 50 percent of its cropland in the Edo Period (1603-1868).
To launch the Hannan Cotton Project, some 2,000 sq. meters of fallow fields (10 percent of its farmland) was leased. Cotton seeds were planted in April 2012.
Hannan chamber of commerce officials tended the cotton as advised by a spinning company, and about 80 students helped harvest it last October.
To establish Hannan’s brand of organic cotton, the crops were raised naturally, without chemicals, meaning weeds had to be pulled and pests killed, chamber executive Hisanobu Deguchi said.
There are still hurdles to overcome, however, as only 30 kg of cotton can be produced per 1,000 sq. meters of land, making it too costly to compete with imports, Deguchi said.
The chamber hopes to win over health-oriented cotton users, like makers of baby and nursing care products, Deguchi said.