Clad in shorts and sandals and wearing a necklace and sunscreen to work in her organic garden, Feng Hsiao-fei (馮小非) does not look like most farmers.
“Why must all farmers be so badly dressed? You can be a farmer and still have your own style,” said Feng, who’s been a farmer for eight years.
Born and raised in Taipei, Feng went to Nantou County to assist the people there after the Sept. 21 earthquake in 1999. However, although the reconstruction work was gradually completed, she realized that there was a fundamental problem that had not been resolved — agriculture.
Photo: Chen Yi-ching, Taipei Times
She persuaded farmers in the area to avoid using pesticides to create a better farming environment and started her own organic orange farm in the Xi Di Yao Agricultural Center in Jhongliao Township (中寮), Nantou County.
Starting as a complete novice, Feng is now completely at ease doing farmwork — including spotting bagworms eating away at fruit trees and shooing away Citrus long-horned beetles. Though some traditional farmers thought she was a fool, that didn’t discourage Feng. After eight years of hard work, Jhongliao Township now offers pesticide-free and export-grade produce.
A sociology graduate from Tunghai University, Feng said she noticed that the unequal development in cities and counties had a great impact on agriculture, and since the founding of the Xi Di Yao Agricultural Center, Feng has continued to keep a close eye on the development of the nation’s agriculture.
Last month, Feng, along with her friend Chiang Hui-hsien (蔣慧仙) and others, set up a Web site named “Up & Down Stream News & Market” that is devoted to agricultural causes and land issues.
The Web site seeks to link upstream producers with downstream consumers, Feng said, adding that “consumption of agricultural produce from a [nature] friendly environment could change the world.”
The Web site has enlisted 70 “co-founders,” she said.
It has an independent reporter for the news section, but it is also open to other writers, Feng said.
There are currently 200 registered writers, with 120 — about a third of whom are younger farmers — regularly contributing articles to the site, Feng said.
As for the site’s market section, Feng said she gives priority to produce from younger farmers and produce that is harder to market.
Feng said the major problem with the nation’s agriculture sector was the production and sales imbalance, which is why Jhongliao residents refused to harvest a surplus production of longan this year.
Feng said the problem is not that the issue cannot be solved, it’s because the Council of Agriculture does not want to solve the issue.
For instance, Japan produces different kinds of tangerines and oranges because the Japanese government has made an effort to differentiate the produce of different areas, she said.
Aside from solving the problem of a production imbalance, these farms can also be turned into ecological attractions when the trees bear fruit at different times, she said.
Feng said it was disheartening to see the council overlooking the advantages of Taiwan’s locally researched fruit species and letting the industry struggle on its own.
“Taiwan’s agriculture industry should be fun and vibrantly alive,” she said.
However, with conservative officials heading the council, “how can Taiwan’s agriculture sector come alive?” she asked.
Feng said she hoped the Web site could become a voice for the agricultural sector and a medium for farmers to find strength and support.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer
Proposed legislation in the US outlines three conditions in which Washington would be authorized to protect Taiwan were China to invade, a report said yesterday. US Representative Ted Yoho this month said he would introduce a Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which would authorize US military force if China were to invade Taiwan-controlled areas, including its outlying islands. According to a version of the bill obtained by the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the bill lists three conditions in which a US president would be authorized to use military force to protect Taiwan: If China uses military force
The Supreme Court on Tuesday found four men guilty of attempted murder in the 2017 stabbing of Spanish surfer Ignacio Prio on a Pingtung County beach in the final ruling in the case, sentencing them to three-and-a-half to six years in prison. The defendants had appealed their convictions for attempted murder in the first and second rulings, which had also led to prison sentences ranging from three-and-a-half years to six years. The then-42-year-old Prio went to Jialeshui Beach (佳樂水) near Kenting (墾丁) on March 31, 2017, was attacked after he asked four men to remove their fishing lines from an area
Two new commuter trains are scheduled to be launched in January next year, the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) said yesterday. The acquisition of EMU-900 commuter train cars is part of the railway operator’s plan to replace 589 train cars that have been in operation for more than three decades. The agency has also placed orders to buy 600 intercity train cars. The first batch of 20 EMU-900 cars is to be delivered to the nation in September, although delivery might be delayed until October due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency said. The batch would be formed into two trains of 10
MEDICINAL HERB: The FRIL protein extracted from hyacinth beans helped laboratory mice survive H1N1 infection and effectively neutralized the coronavirus A protein isolated from hyacinth beans, a medicinal herb known for centuries, has been found to restrict the activities of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses in laboratory experiments, a team of Academia Sinica researchers said yesterday. The beans’ curative effect is documented in the 16th-century Chinese medicine classic Compendium of Materia Medica (本草綱目) and they are also a food source in some countries, the Genomics Research Center’s Chemical Biology Division Director Alex Ma (馬徹) told a news conference in Taipei. Center senior research specialist Jan Jia-tsrong (詹家琮) experimented with up to 500 medicinal herbs to see if they could restrict influenza viruses and