On behalf of H.E. Yousef Bilal, Qatar’s Ambassador to Japan, Mr. Hassan Al-Hemaidi, Second Secretary of the Embassy of the State of Qatar in Japan, received last week a selection of hand-picked vegetables in Kesennuma. The vegetables were grown by families living in temporary shelters under a project aimed at restoring hope among local communities affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami in 2011. Participants in the project joined the celebration of the harvest festival in Kesennuma City, Japan.
Having fulfilled its objective of bringing families living in temporary shelters closer together, the QFF’s US$500,000 Eco Foods project has continued to offer communities expert workshops on vegetable cultivation, sales, and marketing to those affected by the disaster. And having seen how the project has provided a source of inspiration to almost 50,000 people, Mr. Al-Hemaidi, spoke of its wider significance for Japan:
“The Eco Foods Project is part of the Qatar Friendship Fund; intended to bring hope to Kesennuma, after the devastation caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Today, we celebrate the autumn harvest and enjoy the fruits of this important initiative. We also rejoice in local families growing closer and stronger following the tragedy,” said Mr. Al-Hemaidi.
“QFF is helping to create a brighter future across the region. You are an essential part of that future, and so are the families of this beautiful city. Without doubt, communities are the fabric that bind societies together and keep nations moving forward. I come here to congratulate all farmers and encourage you to share your hope with the world.”
The project has successfully installed cultivation planters in 400 locations, with solar power generators installed at 40 of the shared vegetable allotments. With four out of five households in the region reliant on local fishing industries prior to the 3/11 disaster, participants were also congratulated for the way in which they responded to the alternative income opportunity while vital fishing infrastructure was being rebuilt.
Mr. Al-Hemaidi’s remarks were followed by a short video letter from QFF Goodwill Ambassador, Mr. Tetsuya Bessho, who addressed an audience that included Mayor of Kesennuma, Mr. Shigeru Sugawara; Eco Foods Director, Mr. Masashi Kubo; a number of senior dignitaries and guests; and vegetable growers from nearby towns and villages. A reception dinner was held, with food grown by the vegetable growers.
The Eco Foods project is one of eleven initiatives undertaken by QFF, as part of its commitment not only to support the rebuilding of critical infrastructure and supply chains in Japan, but also assist the communities that have given the Tohoku region its diversity and strength. It is part of a combined US$100 million gift from the State of Qatar to Japan and has already benefitted more than 365,000 people directly.