Interview | 竹山修身堺市長対談 【後編】



竹山「はい。そこで農業委員会が農地の貸し借りのマッチングを丁寧にやっていくことが大切だと考えています。また南区だけでなく、美原区の美原米。これもうまい! それもPRしたい」

— Sakai, a hidden rice granary

Keisuke Higuchi (KH): Our original idea for the ‘& Rice’ was to focus on food that goes well with rice (“meshi tomo”). However, after meeting people in the field, we have expanded our views and we are now interested in food in general. In fact, we learned that the city of Sakai is one of the few places within the Osaka Prefecture where agriculture is actually a thriving industry.
Mayor Takeyama (MT): The fact that Sakai is located nearby a major urban area puts us in a privileged position as a producer of fresh agricultural products. And there is the local variety of rice “Niwadani”, which is very good.
KH: Yes, we have covered the “Niwadani” rice in the past.
MT: The “Niwadani” rice is grown using clean water from a river. Its quality and taste must be merchandised more widely.
KH: I agree. But unfortunately, it seems that the “Niwadani” rice is not yet produced in very large quantities.
MT: I believe we need to effectively make use of unused rice fields. On the one hand, there is agricultural land which is not under use right now. And on the other hand, there are people willing to get involved with farming and related activities.
KH: There is the Minaiki Agriculture Study Group in the Minami Ward, for example, where not only retired people but also people in their 30’s come to learn about the local agriculture. However, because agriculture is a traditional activity, it is hard for outsiders to cope with the peculiar ways of doing things once they start the trade.

MT: Yes, I understand. There is a real need to coordinate the matching between the opportunities and people looking for opportunities in agriculture. By the way, it is not only in the Minami Ward, there is the variety of rice “Mihara” from the Mihara Ward, which is also very delicious!
KH: I had not heard about the “Mihara” rice until now!
MT: Mihara is a place of intensive agriculture and of course, rice is taken very seriously there.  My son-in-law is actually from Mihara, and in my daughter’s wedding the servings of rice balls (“onigiri”) of Mihara rice went out very quickly.
KH: “Niwadani” rice and “Mihara” rice must be promoted to larger markets.

Next : 良いものは良いと扱おう – これからの堺市は出る杭は伸ばす

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