Paraguay tofu fueling disaster victims


A disaster relief project has achieved its goal of distributing 1 million packets of tofu made with Paraguayan soybeans among tsunami victims in Tohoku.

Project members have been supplying disaster survivors in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures since last April with tofu produced from soybeans harvested near Paraguay’s Iguassu Falls, according to Gialinks Co., a domestic food importer leading the project.

The tofu has been distributed at shelters and temporary housing, while the area in Paraguay that supplied the beans is known for hosting many Japanese immigrants who first arrived there in 1961. Japanese tofu makers used 100 tons of soybeans donated by Japanese farmers in Paraguay, and the production and transportation costs were covered by donations from Asuncion and Japanese immigrant communities.

But as some 30 tons of the soybeans remain unused, project members said they plan to continue delivering tofu to survivors. Kimiko Ishida, a member of a farm co-op in the Iguassu Falls region that provided the soybeans, said Paraguayan farmers of Japanese descent continue to cherish their ties with Japan.