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Unforgettable Taste from Tian Mama (Mother Tian)
Tian Mama (Mother Tian) is a term used to describe women in villages who demonstrate their strong will and spirit to their entrepreneurship. The logo features a pistil containing a bud, symbolizing the mother of land grown from the earth and the love of Tian Mama. The logo is travelers¡¦ assurance of safety and quality of the food they enjoy.
Since entering the WTO, Taiwan has faced severe challenges and competition from the rest of the world. The Council of Agriculture is actively helping women to transform and improve themselves in order to provide employment opportunities for them in rural villages. Women can run businesses such as shops selling local delicacies as well as recreation-orientated enterprises. The agency offers a "Home Economic Course" for members who are from rural villages and fairly proficient in cooking. This is how "Tian Mama" was first conceived. The women use locally produced food materials from farming or fishing to cook diversified, delicious and locally unique cuisine. Working in concert with recreational farms, they form a supply-chain in local villages so that women can work and earn extra income.
The brand "Tian Mama" is mainly a line of food products from rural villages as well as processed local agricultural products. The main products include rice and noodles. Working with experts in fields such as food hygiene, nutrition, process and marketing, these women have developed a variety of delicious new health foods based on the ideas of low fat, low salt, low sugar and high fiber (the so-called 3 Lows and 1 High). They also cooperate with local farmers' associations to boost local tourism while making fine foods. This increases local consumption while creating more employment opportunities.
152 "Tian Mama" courses have been created since 2003 with the assistance of the agency. 79 of these are "Tian Mama" restaurants, and the other 73 are product processing and bakery courses. 2,400 employment opportunities have been created for women who live in various rural villages nationwide, and the initiative now generates some NT$ 250 million in revenues annually ¡V a real boosts for local economies.
Now that the Tian Mama is established in places around this island, the Council of Agriculture invited famous Taiwanese chefs and dietitians to instruct these women in workshops held in rural areas in order to help them to further improve their cooking skills. The workshops focused on cooking, nutrition balance, food hygiene and dish decoration with professional instruction. With the assistance from local farmers association and local tourism industry, more jobs are created in the rural villages due to increased consumptions.
The women use locally produced food materials from farming or fishing to cook diversified, delicious and locally unique cuisine.
Sustainable management of "Tian Mama"
The macro environment in Taiwan has changed rapidly, making it difficult for rural women to find jobs. Thus future plans for Tian Mama call for a transformation to a professional service business that can provide both delicious local cuisines and recreation. This plan will further boost the economies of local villages while creating jobs. The Council of Agriculture has always played a supporting role in monitoring business conditions for each Tian Mama unit so that the agency can provide help at any time and ensure sustainable development.
The most urgent need in marketing and packaging Tian Mama's output is to improve the knowledge and expertise in managing side business and communicating with the public to overcome the gap that exists between urban and the rural Taiwan. Rural areas lack the platform to exchange with other groups and in fact, women in villages usually suffer from lower levels of confidence. There is still a lot of room for village women to improve their knowledge in brand image and management. They need to establish universal packaging guidelines and a brand reputation for their products. They also need a publicity database to use when dealing with marketing and media issues, as well as a website for media promotion. At the same time, a marketing handbook needs to be designed and distributed to communicate with the public and further promote seasonal cuisine. This will help to boost sales of locally featured delicacies. To improve overall management, Tian Mama calls on industrial experts, government officials and researchers for consultation and technical assistance. This makes local products more diversified. The delicate products of Tian Mama can serve as a great example and a guide to upgrade Taiwan's agriculture.