via The Star / May 22, 2013 /

Farmers have resumed planting rice for market only 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, a local official said Wednesday.

It was the first time since the March 2011 earthquake-tsunami-nuclear disaster that farmers have gone inside the former 20-kilometre “no-go” zone around the doomed plant to sow rice intended for sale.

The zone has been redefined to let people access areas where the levels of radiation from the plant have been relatively low. Tens of thousands of people remain unable to return to their homes.

On Saturday, three farmers started planting rice seedlings in paddies over an area of six hectares (15 acres) in the city of Tamura, a Fukushima regional agriculture official said.

“The work has progressed smoothly as the weather recovered,” Tsuneaki Oonami told AFP by telephone.

The rice paddies are located in Miyakoji district where a few dozen farmers used to live before they were evacuated after the devastating quake and tsunami left the plant spewing radiation from its molten reactors.

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