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Hokkaido starts feeding Singapore's 'yakiimo' cravings

Exports of Japan's dessertlike potatoes grew tenfold during the past decade

Japan’s sweet potato exports totaled 5,600 tons in 2021, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. (Photo courtesy of Central Region Agricultural Research Center, NARO)

TOKYO -- Farmers in Hokkaido have become the unlikely beneficiaries of a Japanese sweet potato boom in other parts of Asia as well as a contagious tuber disease that is spreading in other parts of Japan.

There is also the matter of a climate thought to be too cold to grow the potatoes that Southeast Asians are beginning to crave because of their dessertlike sweetness and texture. But global warming has taken care of that issue.

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