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The Wakame Harvesting Season is in full swing!

2012.2.26

After a cold and unusually snowy January, Wakame seaweed harvesting season has finally started in the town of Minamisanriku. This is the area known all over Japan for its high quality wakame seaweed. In particular, in a fishery community called Utatsu, most residents have been somewhat involved in the wakame seaweed related work such as in cultivation, harvesting, and processing. The wakame processing work has long been a family business and one in which most houses owned their own processing equipment. However, the tsunami devastated the area and most people lost their houses as well as the wakame processing equipment.

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Installed the wakame processing equipment(C)PWJ

“I lost my family members, my home and office from the tsunami. I stayed home for two months doing nothing. I was depressed and felt very empty. But I realized that only I could make myself stand up and move on with my life and I want to help other women in the area who went through a lot” said a woman from Utatsu. “I have been doing wakame processing ever since I was married, for over 35 years. I’m looking forward to going back to work soon.” In mid-February, wakame harvesting began again.

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Wakame harvesting in Utatsu(C)PWJ

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Wakame processing(C)PWJ

The women waited by the port for the wakame to be brought in on the boats so that it could be processed. Once offloaded, they put it into the tanks and processors. Many women from Utatsu joined in the work, including an 88-year old woman who sorted wakame with skilled hands.

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Many women from Utatsu joined in the work(C)PWJ

The wakame processing will continue until mid-May, when this season ends. Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) has been working closely with Utatsu Fishing Cooperatives to help women in fisheries. This program is funded by Walmart through Mercy Corps, a partner of Peace Winds Japan. PWJ continues to support programs to help fishing communities stand on their own feet again.
About Mercy Corps:
Mercy Corps helps people turn the crises they confront into the opportunities they deserve. Driven by local needs, Mercy Corps programs provide communities in the world’s toughest places with the tools and support they need to transform their own lives. The worldwide team in 41 countries is improving the lives of 19 million people. For more information, see mercycorps.org.

About Walmart:
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at over 10,000 retail units in 27 countries. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.:
The grant through Peace Winds Japan this time is part of the company’s $5million (USD) commitment of cash and in-kind donations for emergency relief efforts in response to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that left thousands dead and tens of thousands homeless.