In June 16th 1927, my great-grandfather Tsunekichi Minami, my great-grandmother Kachi Minami and children arrived in Santos, Sao Paulo, Brazil after leaving Japan and travelling during 2 months on Kanagawa-Maru ship. My grandfather Goro Minami at that time was 11 years old. The emigration turned into an option for more than 157.000 Japanese people that arrived in Brazilian lands in the period from 1924 to 1941, as a result from a chronic and exponential demography that was causing an intense social, political, cultural and economic change in Japan.
Pursuing the dream of a better life condition my ancestors from the families Minami and Okuyama (paternal grandparents), Kumata and Iida (maternal grandparents) came to Brazil looking for the Brazilian golden – coffee – that was the country’s main export product. In the end, the promise of making money by working in coffee plantations and going back to Japan was different from the reality. Staying in Brazil was no longer an option but the one and only alternative.
After several years of hard work in coffee farms in Sao Paulo state, they raised some money and bought a small piece of land in the north of Parana state where they cultivated coffee. In 1944 my grandfather married my grandmother Mitsuyo and in 1947 my father Niculau Minami was born. Since young age he used to work in the farm following his father’s steps. A curious fact is that my grandfather wanted his son studying Medicine School, but he attended school until he was 9 years old. He quit studying to help in the farm and to follow his dream of becoming a farmer.
In the 1960’s the north of Parana concentrated 50% of the national coffee production. However, many severe frosts were gradually damaging coffee plantations and in 1974 Goro and Niculau visited the Alto Paranaíba in Cerrado Mineiro to get to know the region for developing farming activities in an area safe from frosts. Since 1973 the region was undergoing an agricultural expansion program, the PADAP – Alto Paranaiba Guided Settlement Agricultural Program. An area of 60.000 hectares was expropriated and divided in many smaller lots and approximately a hundred families of Japanese origin settled the region and started agricultural activities.
In April 25th, 1975 Niculau Minami arrived to PADAP region under the supervision and support of his father and elder brother. They acquired an area of 442 hectares, the lot number 71, called Fazenda Olhos d’Água, which means Farm of Spring Waters due to its several springs, in Rio Paranaíba municipality, 30 km from São Gotardo.
Since then, coffee and other crops (potato, carrot, garlic, soybean, corn, oat and wheat) has been planted. This is a privileged location, thanks to its soil, higher altitude, around 1.140 and 1.160 meters and its climate turns, that is, hot days and cool nights, which is good for coffee.
Coffee plantation characteristics:
- Varieties: Yellow Catuaí, Red Catuaí, Mundo Novo, Icatu and Red Catucaí
- Harvest: June to August
- Method: Natural
- Average altitude: 1.150 m
- City: Rio Paranaíba, Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Region: designation of origin Cerrado Mineiro