Wed, Aug 08, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Film on how storm changes farmers’ lives released

Staff writer, with CNA

A documentary about the reconstruction of a village that was devastated by Typhoon Morakot in 2009 has been released to coincide with the third anniversary of the disaster.

The film follows the story of three tea farmers in Taihe Village (太和) in Chiayi County’s Mei-shan Township (梅山) and how the storm changed their lives.

When Morakot hit on Aug. 8, 2009, it triggered the worst flooding in the country in 50 years. It also toppled dozens of houses and ruined vital infrastructure in the mountainous village of Taihe, where most residents relied on tea farming to make a living.

After the disaster, tea farmers Kuo Chun-nan (郭俊男), Chien Chia-wen (簡嘉文) and Yeh Jen-shou (葉人壽) — the focus of the film — began to rethink their relationship with nature.

Deeply affected by the devastation of the land, they adopted greener farming practices, including not using chemical fertilizers to grow tea.

“We decided to just go the natural way,” Kuo said at a press conference in Taipei on Monday.

“Natural farming,” which means no fertilizers, makes the tea plants stronger, said Chien, whose family has been in the tea-farming business for about 30 years.

Although natural farming methods result in a lower crop yield, it is the right thing to do, the three farmers said.

They also encouraged other farmers to plant trees on their farms to protect the environment.

Many people have negative impressions about tea farming because it usually means cutting down trees, which affects water conservation and also increases the chances of mudslides during heavy rains.

Morakot caused serious damage in Taihe, but it also raised greater awareness about conservation, the filmmakers said.

The reconstruction process involved more than structures and the land, film director Wu Ping-hai (吳平海) said.

“What’s more important is the reconstruction of values,” he added.

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