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The cultivation of rice on a trial basis has begun in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba, from where all residents were evacuated following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

It will be the first rice crop in the town since Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant suffered triple meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The safety of the harvested rice will be tested through checks for radioactive materials.

Members of a local management association for farmland conservation in charge of the cultivation trial participated in the sowing, along with its chairman Osamu Kohata and Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa and officials from agricultural cooperatives and the prefectural agriculture and forestry office.

The planted rice, known as Ten no Tsubu, was developed by the prefectural government.

The event marked “the first step in resuming agricultural operations,” Kohata said, showing eagerness to “restore the town’s landscape by increasing the planted areas after the trial cultivation.”

Izawa said, “I hope the first rice planting in 10 years will motivate evacuated residents.”

Futaba is the last municipality covered by the central government’s evacuation order to resume rice planting.

The Futaba municipal government hopes that the evacuation order, issued after the nuclear accident, will be lifted for a foothold for rebuilding the town and the start of the return of residents in the spring of 2022.

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station straddles Futaba and the town of Okuma in the prefecture. In order to revive agriculture, mainly rice production, Futaba has set up a 978-square-meter rice field in the reconstruction foothold.

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