The Annou sweet potato changed farming on Tanegashima.
I was born the youngest of six siblings. As each of my brothers and sisters grew up and left the island, only I was left. The reason for staying was simple--I loved the waters of this island. As a young boy, I spent my time swimming and fishing and enjoying the sea. Even now, when I have some spare moments away from the field, I go fishing.
It was about 12 years ago that I started growing sweet potato seriously. The story I've heard is that a sweet potato from Sumatra, Indonesia was brought to the island more than 60 years ago, after which it caught on here in the Annou area and our sweet potato cultivation began.
The real momentum behind the product started from transactions with major supermarkets. It was quite a surprise when the sweet potato that had just been grown here on a small scale suddenly became a nationwide thing. Initially, there was still inconsistency in the flavor and quality, so we pooled our knowledge and used trial and error to focus on making better potatoes.
Nowadays, quality and reliability are a matter of course. I think we still need to challenge ourselves to see if we can grow even better tasting potatoes. The more that I get jubilant feedback from customers, the more I feel responsibility and dedication to attend to all the small details. Annou sweet potato has changed our way of thinking as farmers and may have changed agriculture on Tanegashima. We will continue to produce authentic Annou sweet potato worthy of the name and impressive enough to make people realize that the ones made on Tanegashima are clearly the best.
■ Favorite things about Tanegashima
Fresh Annou sweet potatoes are of course delicious, but I also recommend products and sweets made with the potatoes as an ingredient.
I think are they really wonderful.