Soka Gakkai Farmers in Hokkaido Hold Agricultural Renaissance Rally
On April 3, Soka Gakkai members engaged in farming in Hokkaido held a Hokkaido Agriculture Renaissance Rally at the Soka Gakkai Furano Culture Center in Furano City. In a message, SGI President Daisaku Ikeda urged each farmer to create happiness in his or her own life life, which will reflect in society as prosperity and happiness of all humanity. Four representatives shared their pride of supporting the food chain and thereby fostering life through their farming efforts. Iwao Okuno, director of JAC (Japan Agriculture Cooperative) Furano, praised the four farmers for brilliantly expressing their pride in farming, saying they taught him the importance of developing generosity and gentleness of spirit to cherish people and food. He reminded the audience that the human body receives nourishment and sustenance courtesy the farmers who raise what we eat. In this sense, for the sake of protecting our health, it is important to enrich and protect the environment, which supports farming.
A summary of the four farmers' testimonials follows.
Minoru Sakurai, 55, Shimizucho, Hokkaido: Choosing farming as his career at 21, Minoru Sakurai enrolled in a technical agriculture institute. He married at 25 and began life as a farming couple. Reality, however, was harsh. When he found himself at the end of his ropes, having lost sight of his dreams and all hope, a good friend urged him to aim toward bigger dreams. Mr. Sakurai redetermined to start afresh and wholeheartedly applied himself to developing his farm, as well as participate in Soka Gakkai activities. His efforts reaped results and became the foundation for the dairy and crop farm he operates today. He was able to increase the number of dairy cows from 12 to 90, and he currently has 60 hectares of crops. Mr. Sakurai is a top seller in his region, and has also gained the trust of fellow farmers.
Yasuo Mitamura, Furano City, Hokkaido: Yasuo Mitamura, 47, grows onions, melons, wheat and sweet corn. He takes great pride and joy in living as a farmer in harmony with the land he tills. Drawn to the natural environment of Furano, Mr. Mitamura began farming at 30. At first, many crops failed, due to his inability to "read" their health condition and his lack of knowledge on the proper way to nurture them. But, armed with the optimism he gained from Nichiren Buddhism, he determined to transform the impossible into the possible. Mr. Mitamura attended agriculture classes and persisted in asking the advice of farming experts until he finally succeeded in growing healthy, bountiful crops. Today, he receives many reorders and letters from satisfied customers.
Norio Ota, 54, Naka Furanocho, Hokkaido: Norio Ota, president of an agricultural production corporation, has been involved in organic and chemical-free farming for a quarter century. At the time, farmers were bent on gaining profits at any cost and used copious amount of pesticides without a thought to consumers' health. Fellow farmers scoffed at Mr. Ota's idealism. However, his father staunchly advised him to stick to his beliefs and do what he thought was right. With this in mind, Mr. Ota has based his farming methods on his personal philosophy: "A sound and healthy body is nurtured by wholesome foods." He continues to set the standards for producing safe and trustworthy foods in the current age.
Kazuko Arayama, Kitamura City, Hokkaido: Together with her family, Kazuko Arayama manages a farm comprising seven hectares of rice fields and eight hectares of other crops. Ms. Arayama switched careers from nursing to farming ten years ago, when she married into a farming family. At the time, she was able to take advantage of her skills at taking detailed notes, learned through nursing patients, and began to record daily weather and crop conditions. The notebooks number six, and are now part of the family farm's valuable assets. Ms. Arayama says when she makes decisions based on the value-creating philosophy of Buddhism, no efforts seem to go to waste. She expressed great joy and contentment in becoming a farmer's wife.