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COA Minister Chen leads over a thousand rice farmers to break Guinness Records


As a tribute to the nation's "rice power" and agricultural roots, the Council of Agriculture (COA) and the Taoyuan County Government's Agriculture Development Bureau jointly organized an unprecedented rice-planting event on Aug. 18, gathering over a thousand professional farmers to join COA Minister Chen Bao-ji in his attempt to break several Guinness World Records and to enter Taoyuan's name into the internationally renowned tomes.

Given the fact that the Chinese words for the numbers "8 – 10 – 8" can be combined to create the more complex character "rice," the COA explained that no other day was more fitting than Aug. 18, which served as a perfect backdrop to the record-breaking attempt of mobilizing 12 hundred farmers to replant 2 hectares of rice paddies within 25 minutes flat. Moreover, the auspicious date will also help raise the profile of domestically produced rice, a promotional tactic that reflects the government's efforts in bolstering local consumption of Taiwanese rice. The simplest way to support domestic rice farmers and the nation's agricultural sector is to enjoy a bowl of freshly steamed rice with each meal, the COA added.

1,200 individuals who share one common dream

The Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of rice planters in action was last broken in 2010, in which 904 Thai farmers completed planting a 1.6-hectare rice field in 30 minutes and 35 seconds. When the COA's imminent plans to challenge Thailand's records were announced, volunteers from all over Taoyuan County clamored for a spot, prompting agricultural officials to increase the event's quota from 1,000 to 1,200 participants. The unparalleled scale of the event, which took place at the Taoyuan township of Sinwu, and the enthusiasm shown by the volunteers are clear indications of Taiwanese farmers' pride in their rice production capabilities, the officials pointed out.

COA Minister Chen, who joined the 1,200-strong group of Taoyuan farmers at a 2-hectare plot of farmland located left of the 8.4-kilometer mark on the Provincial Highway 66, explained that the Aug. 18 event will challenge the Guinness World Records for planting rice saplings in three categories – the number of planters utilized, the amount of time used and the total volume of land covered. In another favorable twist of events, the eldest participant was the 91-year-old farmer Song Hua-sheng, whereas the youngest volunteer was the 16-year-old student Huang Xiang-long. The scene of the senior-junior duo working side-by-side in the rice paddy is a fitting icon of the generational transition in Taiwan's rural scene, the agricultural head noted, adding that collective collaboration is the key to perpetuating the island's vitality in a sustainable manner.

Eat local: ‘One Bite Makes all the Difference’

As a way to give thanks to all the participants for their backbreaking performance, Minister Chen also prepared a set of tee-shirts as commemorative gifts for attending the record-breaking event. The specially designed tops, which are emblazed with the slogan "One Bite Makes all the Difference," will mark the wearers as informal "diplomats of rice" whose every appearance will help raise the profile of locally grown rice, stated the COA. Finally, as a befitting conclusion to the high-profile event, COA Minister Chen and 1,215 Taoyuan farmers established three brand-new records by covering 2.1 hectares of land in 16 minutes and 20 seconds, overtaking Thailand to become the world’s top rice planters.