Tue, Jan 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Taitung County farmer named youngest `king of rice'


Bracing against the wind and rain, Hsu Pang-chun (徐榜駿) toils on his 10 hectares of rice paddies from sunrise to sunset, racing to finish his planting prior to the Lunar New Year, which is just around the corner.

Hsu, 24, last year's champion rice farmer in Luyeh Township (鹿野) in Taitung County, has been nicknamed the youngest "king of rice" in Taiwan after winning third place in a nationwide rice competition earlier this month.

Hsu has made his father's rice paddies his playground since childhood and was allowed to cultivate his own fields starting from the age of 13.

Early interest

Pleased with his son's fondness for working on the rice paddies -- a chore most rural kids would run from -- the senior Hsu asked Pang-chun what he wanted for his 13th birthday. The younger Hsu answered without a pause: "A seedling machine!"

Hsu Pang-chun attended a vocational high school before entering Dahan Institute of Technology of Hualien, majoring in mechanics. He spent all his school breaks working on the rice paddies.

He entered the rice competition in Luyeh Township last year soon after graduating from Dahan Institute, surprisingly winning the championship with his own product, named "Fulu Rice."

He then represented Luyeh in a nationwide rice competition at the beginning of this year, beating many veteran rice farmers to take third prize.

Hsu Pang-chun is scheduled to report to the military as a new conscript immediately after the Lunar New Year holiday, which is why he has been racing to finish planting.

Famous rice

Rice from Taitung Valley, which is known for its good water and lack of industrial pollution, is famous for its high quality and flavor. Taitung rice farmers have even exported their products to Japan.

Asked whether he will leave his hometown after finishing military service and find a job in the city, Hsu Pang-chun said: "I won't leave my rice paddies until I win the championship of the nationwide rice competition."

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