Every Worker Strives Regardless of Age

Taiwan's agricultural sector has faced crises after gaining access to WTO. The farming community has guided their businesses with fresh ideas and techniques to till their lands. Young and old, they all stoically put on a determined visage and put forth their determined resolution to compete by crafting modern frameworks. They have been working to strive for their survival as well as the sustainable development of Taiwan's agriculture.

While sitting at the office of the first squad of production and marketing Courtesy of Hualien yulee of Yuli Township, Hualien County organic rice, and listening to the squad leader, Zeng Wen-Nan tells the history about the development of farming organic rice by the first squad, one can not but be reminded of the images of "Uncle Kun Bin" working diligently in the fields in a documentary produced by the COA. The images of Kun Bin are found overlapped with that of the squad leader Zeng. That are now 16 members in the first squad, and they are all sexagenarians and septuagenarians, mostly with only elementary school background. Some are Aborigines. One elderly Aborigine couple—Chen Kun-Shan and Chen Ying-Tao are even older at 83 and 81 years old respectively.

That Taiwan’s farmers are aging is common knowledge, but what's most surprising is that members of their production and marketing squads had already chosen to grow rice organically as early as twelve years ago, and they have persisted until today to see its implementation to fruition. They created the brand name Tong Fong organic rice and, what's more, employed direct marketing from every outlet that sells the brand. Besides, Taiwan Fertilizer Company has contracted farming with the production and marketing squad in the past few years, and the rice harvested by the squad can be sold about 20% higher than those produced with the aid of inorganic chemicals. Per kilogram yield has averaged that on the western side of the island, bringing forth high-added value in ample quantities. Furthermore, the production and marketing squad won the special Agricultural Performance honor of Top Ten Production and Marketing Squad. Looking back over the years to 1994, we can recall how organic farming in Taiwan in its early stages was but merely an idea that needed a strong-minded motivator.

Zeng Wen-Nan said that, back then, Huang Shan Nei, Director of Hualien Agricultural Research and Extension Station, began to push for organic agriculture. Having witnessed the good quality of water and environment of Yuli, he encouraged the farming populace there to grow organic rice. Then, Zeng himself was not very clear what to do. He merely knew that if he grew organic rice, he wouldn't have to spray chemical fertilizer any more, which was good for the consumer's health. It is a good business for "if it is good for yourself, it will be good for others as well." Having listened to Director Huang's suggestions, Zeng and his younger brother, Wen Ren, began to experiment with one hectare of their land to grow organic rice.
  
At the time when they began to grow organic rice, he was not very comfortable with it. To grow organic rice in isolation, he had to put up fences. He could not spray weed killer, nor chemical fertilizer. Neighboring farmers thought it odd. He thought about quitting, but, bearing the fear of embarrassment, his non-submissive spirit pressed him forward. Eventually there was a modicum of success and other farming friends began to inquire into it. Chen Kun Shan's younger brother's field is right next to the couples'. Having noticed that they could grow rice crops just as well without spraying chemical insecticide, he decided to follow their lead.
 
fruit garden The most unusual thing is that Chen Kun Shan and his wife are Aborigines and speak neither Taiwanese nor Mandarin. They learned to appreciate the importance of the natural environment for organic rice, farmers, and consumers via communication in Japanese. Even until now, as one sits at the office of the production and marketing squad, one oftentimes hears squad members exchange their opinions of farming with Zeng with other Aborigines in Japanese, forming an interesting feature of the production and marketing squad of Tong Fong organic rice.
 
Aside from growing organic rice, the production and marketing squad has lately coped with the policy of the Council of Agriculture requiring them to make record of their production capacity. How would illiterate squad members render their production records? Zeng Wen Nan explained that he would teach their members to the information on a calendar. Then their secretary would file the by-lot information into the computer, which was dictated by squad members reading their marks on the calendar. If we take a look at the original calendrical records of the squad members, we find many interesting expression methods.
  
The effort and diligence of these senior predecessors have strongly influenced their younger generation to stay at their hometown and work on cultivation of their fields. For instance, Zeng Guo-Ci, clerk to the production and marketing squad, is the nephew of Zeng Wen-Nan, who returned nine years ago when an accident occurred to his father. From resistance in the beginning to fully acceptance, he is presently taking part in all of planning and management of the production and marketing squad. Leader Zeng once said, "It is so nice to be happy to work together because they bring novel ideas and new ways of doing things, while senior people are used to older concepts, they hardly know where they stand when others have long gone farther ahead of them."
  
It has been hard for squad members to go this far over the past decade, both embracing the ideas of sustainable agricultural development as well taking note of natural healthy mindedness. Zeng said with embarrassment, "We really have not thought that much, but merely believe that it is an ethical business, and we have persisted because it is the right thing to do."
  
The story of the first squad of production and marketing for organic rice from Yuli has demonstrated to senior farmers who are willing to resort to novel ideas and technology rendering fresh hope to agriculture in order to bring forth their harvest. As for the 21st squad of production and marketing of fruit tree at Da Cun Village, Changhua (Jhanghua) presents yet another facade of modern farmers.
  
Changhua Da Cun is a hometown grape grower, producing well-noted Ju Fong grapes. As we converse with the members of the 21st squad, one will be so much impressed with the strong ambition by each of the squad members as they are so eager to share how they grow, market, and construct their manner of management for the new agriculture. Of the 27 members of the squad, they have worked out the brand name of class 1 Zih Long Jhu grape, which is purchased as much with the price as 50% higher than that of other brand names. And about a quarter of the squad members receive annual income of one million dollars a year, considered to be "novel agricultural nobility."
  
The average age for the members in this squad is about 30,while three-fourths of have either a high school, vocational high, or university education, there is even one member who has studied in Germany. One-third of the squad members own their brand names, while their products are sold and delivered directly to the consumer.
 
Wu Shu Chun, who has just released his duty as squad leader, describes himself as the wander Vogel of the earlier generation. Wu, who once worked in trade, returned home in 1992 to inherit family business and began to work on farming business. He remembers that when he first returned home, there were not many young people like him in the village, and the senior farmers' management model is to sell their products to wholesalers. Only that these products can barely be sold with a good price, and often their efforts and investment would come to nothing when there is a good harvest. As a result, these senior farmers could hardly support their families, not to mention about any savings.
  
With tremendous experiences in marketing, Wu appreciates that there must be some changes before thing could turn for better; nonetheless, he knows it would be difficult for the senior farmers to change their traditional way of production and marketing. During then, he has many fights and conflicts with his father before he is gradually accepted with approval and allowed to try out with free hand. In order to grown quality grapes, he tries to discover the latest knowledge on his own, and attend classes held by each agricultural research station and experiment institutes. When there were any problem, he would consult the experts. Then, he gradually established his own brand name, and market his product with direct-sale as it brings in higher profit with direct-production and direct-sale.

The process of Wu is the miniature of farming for most of the 21st squad members. In fact, this group of wander Vogel are mostly offspring with farming tradition and heritage. They have farmland back at home, and strive hard in urban city for their own livelihood turning into adult. However, as of family calling or carrying with them the ideals the agriculture community, many of them began to return to their hometown, and work on cultivation with novel ideas and technology to run their agricultural business.

You Jhih Sin, newly elected leader of the 21st squad, returned to his hometown in 1997. Then, the delivery service system to households was not instituted, and they had to drive all around to hospitals, government institutes, and demo exhibitions during the harvest in order to obtain confidence from consumers. During the demo, they would present to consumers the test report of Ji Yuan plantation in order to help consumers be rest assured of their quality. Until today, he would no longer to run errands north to south as all their products can now be delivered to every household. Since his product is guaranteed with a brand name, it is always under-supply and many of his clients have been hooked to him as early as when he first started to peddle his products.

Modern farmers like Wu and You not only know to have established their own brand names but also employ household delivery service; most of all, they honor the needs of their clients. Therefore, after they have distributed products, they would call their consumer to inquire about their level of satisfaction about their products, with catalogs and order applications sent out to consumers to remind them to purchase before the harvest. Aside from making use of novel marketing skills, squad members of production and marketing would learn and carry on discussion with one another in order to help make use of the latest technology to cultivate and achieve concurrent enhancement of quality and quantity for their products, being a characteristic of modern farmers. Take for instance, in order to improve the problem of fruit-ripening in winter, they have resort to lighting using night-lamp, and it has helped to boost fruit-ripening rate of grape by as much as 25%.

` Wu says that whenever his client tells him, "It is lucky that there are such young people like you who are willing to return to hometown to work on agriculture, we can now have the chance to partake in these delicious grapes," his satisfaction is overwhelming that it is beyond words and language, which also plays as the major motivator that keeps his persistence alive. Wu believes that as long as he could have found the right way to manage, there is for surely hope and future for farmers of Taiwan.


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