- The Association of Japanese Geographers
- 地理学評論 (ISSN:13479555)
- vol.75, no.5, pp.213-235, 2002-04-01 (Released:2008-12-25)
Under the producers' price limitation policy, sugar cane farming in Okinawa cannot exist without rationalizing its management, mainly through the introduction of mechanical harvesting. This has become a serious problem especially in the isolated islands where sugar cane farming and sugar production are the main industries. In this paper, I focused on Minamidaito Island, which is the only area in Okinawa that has introduced mechanical harvesting on a large scale, and examined the actual management of sugar cane farming, based upon a survey conducted in Kita Village in 1988. The conclusion revealed that the mechanization of harvesting did not necessarily serve for the rationalization of the management. The characteristics of the management of sugar cane farming on Minamidaito Island after mechanization are: remarkably increased investment in capital equipment and in farmland improvement, increased cultivation cost needed for new planting and application of fertilizers and chemicals, and increased labor input. These lead to diminishing the income of farmers because problems like how to take advantage of the capital equipment, how to convert the conventional extensive system of cultivation to a labor-intensive, capital-intensive system have not been discussed enough. The liberation from hard labor by the mechanization of harvesting is considered to be the minimum necessity for the young labor force to participate in sugar cane farming. But at the same time, if the mechanization does not lead to the rationalization of its management, sugar cane farming will gradually lose its future labor force, and its status as the main industry of the isolated islands of Okinawa will be lowered.