Dressed in traditional Aboriginal clothes from the Tsou tribe, Aborigines from Tefuye (特富野) village in Alishan (阿里山), Chiayi County, yesterday unveiled self-grown coffee products with creative package designs made with the help of National Taiwan University (NTU) students.
The collaboration between 36 NTU students and 18 Aboriginal coffee bean farming households was part of an entrepreneurship program at the university.
Students were divided into pairs and each pair was asked to work with a household and help them come up with creative ideas for promoting their beans.
Alishan Township Chief Chen Ming-li (陳明利) said he was happy to see the students helping the development of Tefuye, because many communities in the area need assistance in the wake of Typhoon Morakot in 2009.
He said the Danayigu Valley used to attract about 300,000 visitors a year, but after widespread destruction from the typhoon, the number of visitors dropped to less than 50,000 visitors.
Council of Indigenous People Commissioner and Tsou representative Yangu e Poicongu said the villagers had established a coffee production and sales group about two years ago, but it was hard to compete with the renowned coffee produced in Gukeng Township (古坑), Yunlin County.
“People told me I was a fool to grow coffee beans, because it is difficult to compete with those international brands in the market,” production and sales group member Tanevu said. “I considered growing tea, but growing tea requires larger plots of plowed land, so we chose to grow coffee beans under trees.”
“When we heard the news that the students were coming, we were very excited about their participation, because we had no idea how to market our products,” villager Tanivu Aguyayana said. “Actually our coffee beans are of high quality, but we just didn’t know how to market them.”