Liu Chao-nan is a 73-year-old, one-eyed pomelo farmer hailing from Yunlin County’s Douliou City. He and his two grandchildren — one in junior high school and the other in elementary school — depend on each other for their survival. Liu worries about his pomelos being stolen, which would potentionally leave his grandchildren without money to pay for school, so he sleeps in the orchard every night to protect the pomelos. Over the past decade, he has slept there every night, rain or shine, without fail. “Revenue from the pomelos pays for the two kids’ education. If they are stolen, there won’t be enough money for them to stay in school.”
Liu, his face covered in wrinkles and skin darkly tanned, began growing pomelos 35 years ago. One day when he was cutting the grass in the orchard, a tree branch fell and pierced his eye, causing him to go entirely blind in his left eye. Liu’s pomelo orchard covers approximately eight fen (7.76km2) of land. He and his wife manage everything on a daily basis, including spreading fertilizer, while his eldest son and second oldest son, who live elsewhere, come to help on the weekends.
Liu’s son died more than a decade ago after contracting cancer, leaving behind a daughter and son who had not yet reached three years of age. After taking into consideration that both of his other sons already had children of their own, he decided to take on the important responsibility of raising his little granddaughter and grandson with his wife.
The high quality and price of Douliou City’s pomelos often make them the coveted target of thieves during harvest season, but despite the local city office and police working together to help protect local pomelos from being stolen, Liu’s farming equipment was stolen once — a loss that ran in the tens of thousands of New Taiwan dollars.
To keep his business from going belly-up and subsequently not having enough money to pay for his grandkid’s education because thieves stole their pomelos, Liu put a mattress on the bed of his farming truck, which he parks in the middle of the orchard — his bedroom — and for the past decade, regardless of how strong the wind or rain gets, he sleeps there.
The Douliou City Office says that farmers must make a living against the whims of nature, and income made from harvesting pomelos can vastly fluctuate. One fen (970m2) of land typically generates between NT$200,000 and NT$300,000, but when the harvest is bad that number falls to between NT$50,000 and NT$60,000. After deducting administrative fees and other costs, not much is left, making the toilsome hardship that Liu and his grandchildren endure even more apparent.(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)