rural economics


What do you do when rural communities lose their primary source of income? In the U.S. the answer has been to recruit transnational companies to install factories and industry in an attempt to create new jobs. Alternatively, many rural communities experience economic decline. Although less publicized, rural decline is probably the more likely of the two outcomes. The situation seems to be no different in Japan, where rural populations struggle to stay young (many Japanese youngsters flock to the city) and find a market niche. From the Economist:

Half a century ago Yubari, on the northern island of Hokkaido, was a coal-mining town with more than 100,000 people. The last of its mines shut in 1990. Today a population of 13,000 is strung out along the long road up the valley to the old mines at the top. Under its previous mayor Yubari reinvented itself as a tourist spot. It built a theme park in an old mine. An annual international film festival so impressed Quentin Tarantino that the American director named a character after the town. She was Gogo Yubari, a sociopathic schoolgirl.

Yubari melons, promoted assiduously by its mayor, have gained fame in Japan chiefly for their price–a pair sold this year for yen800,000 ($7,200). But all the promotion cost money. Last month Yubari became the first municipality in 14 years in effect to declare bankruptcy, admitting that it had accumulated yen63 billion in hidden debts, 14 times annual tax revenues.

Yes, melons that cost $7,200. Like many things Japanese, I simply can’t understand that.

And now is an opportunity to brag about my excellent rookie gardening skills. My garden’s watermelons are just ripening and, surprising to me, turned out to be very sweet. I had no idea what to expect from this Utah dirt and climate. Looks like Sugarbaby Melons are the way to go.


Written by brayden king

August 30, 2006 at 1:45 am

One Response

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  1. After more than a decade of civil war Guatemala followed a similar trajectory of economic development hoping to stem the emmigration of its mostly rural people, particularly the young. Consequently, tourism has since become the second largest part of its economy…right behind remissions from émigrés in the U.S.



    August 30, 2006 at 9:59 pm

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