Thu, Jun 26, 2014 - Page 4 News List

Sibao farmers sow seeds of Taiwan’s organic revolution

Staff writer, with CNA

Sibao (西寶), a community in the eastern foothills of the Central Mountain Range, has transformed itself into the nation’s first completely organic farming town through its five-year collaboration with Taroko National Park.

The feat was made possible by the Tse-xin Organic Agriculture Foundation, which was commissioned by the park to dedicate 6.7 hectares of farmland exclusively to organic produce. Under the initiative, seven of the eight households in the small village in Hualien County’s Sioulin Township (秀林) are practicing sustainable agriculture.

Foundation chief executive Su Mu-jung (蘇慕容) said that through organic farming — which employs crop rotation, composting and biological rather than synthetic pest control methods — Sibao residents have forged a more harmonious relationship with nature.

Su said that 13 households in are now participating in the project, which was launched in 2010, after it was extended to three neighboring villages in Sioulin.

To date, nine households covering 10 hectares of farmland have been certified organic, Su said, adding that the aim is to keep expanding the program and establish a brand name for the organic produce its participants yield.

Organic farming contributes to greater biodiversity and a healthier environment, as well as helping farmers enjoy their work more, Su said.

Sibao farmer Chang Jung-wen (張榮文) said he joined the program after seeing some of his friends die prematurely because they did not heed the risks of using chemical fertilizers.

“I don’t want to die like that,” he said.

Eco-friendly farming practices have also been a boon to wildlife in the Sibao area, animal expert Lin Ching-feng said.

The village is now home to 13 species of mammals, eight of reptiles, five of amphibians and 46 of birds, including five of the nation’s 12 types of owls, Lin added.

As Sibao continues its organic awakening, its next mission is to maintain the biodiversity that this has brought about, Lin said.

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