Farmers, businesses tap into Japan's nascent olive industry

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Six years ago in city Ukiha of Fukuoka Prefecture, persimmon farmer Mitsuhiko Fujita made up his mind to try something different–he decided to plant olive trees.

Ukiha is renowned for its persimmons, so it was a big decision for Fujita. But it was a gamble that has really paid off.

Today, there are 50 farmers in the city cultivating olives, including the 67-year-old Fujita. The city government is also encouraging the cultivation of olives by offering subsidies.

“We want to make olives a specialty local product,” Fujita said.

Last year, the olive yield totaled 500 kilograms for the entire city, a fivefold increase from the previous year.

Many farmers say it is easy to grow olive trees, even for inexperienced or older farmers, compared with persimmon trees.

“My work was cut to one-tenth compared with the days I farmed persimmons,” Fujita said.

Fujita grows 52 olive trees of six varieties on a 1,600-square-meter slope of land.

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